Your Love Is Not Good
At an otherwise forgettable party in Los Angeles, a queer Korean American painter spots a woman who instantly controls the room: gorgeous and distant and utterly white, the centre of everyone’s attention. Haunted into adulthood by her Korean father’s abandonment of his family, as well as the spectre of her beguiling, abusive white mother, the painter finds herself caught in a perfect trap. She wants Hanne, or wants to be her, or to sully her, or destroy her, or consume her, or some confusion of all the above. Since she’s an artist, she will use art to get closer to Hanne, beginning a series of paintings with her new muse as model. As for Hanne, what does she want? Her whiteness seems sometimes as cruel as a new sheet of paper.
When the paintings of Hanne become a hit, resulting in the artist’s first sold-out show, she resolves to bring her new muse with her to Berlin, to continue their work, and her seduction. But, just when the painter is on the verge of her long sought-after breakthrough, a petition started by a Black performance artist begins making the rounds in the art community, calling for the boycott of major museums and art galleries for their imperialist and racist practices.
Torn between her desire to support the petition, to be a success, and to possess Hanne, the painter and her reality become more unstable and disorienting, unwilling to cut loose any one of her warring ambitions, yet unable to accommodate them all. Is it any wonder so many artists self-destruct so spectacularly? Is it perhaps just a bit exciting to think she could too?
Your Love Is Not Good stuffs queer explosive into the cracks between identity and aspiration, between desire and art, and revels in the raining debris.
Read an Excerpt
About the Book
If you subscribed to And Other Stories by 17th October 2022, you will receive your copy of Your Love Is Not Good – in which all subscribers are thanked by name – in January 2023, before its official publication, as well as up to five other specially selected And Other Stories titles per year. Find out more about our subscriptions.
- You can find out more about Johanna Hedva and their work on their website.
- Johanna Hedva talked to Art Review about their work – you can read the full interview here.
- You can read the horoscope Johanna Hedva cast for Frieze Los Angeles here.
- Johanna Hedva’s lecture “My Body Is a Prison of Pain so I Want to Leave It Like a Mystic But I Also Love It & Want it to Matter Politically” is available to watch or read here.
- A hagiography of Nine Inch Nails, written by Johanna Hedva for The White Review, is available here.
‘By turns funny, brutal, and (surprisingly) tender, Your Love is Not Good is a major achievement. Hedva’s prose—which is gusty and taut—conveys a thrumming, kaleidoscopically constructed narrative structure to produce for the reader an experience of something incredibly intimate, something profuse, raw, erotic and challenging. Your Love is Not Good contains revelations (both vibrating and appalling) about artists and practice, and about contemporary art worlds. An instant classic/must-read/ important addition to the (woefully scanty) genre of books by artists about art-life. A very moving read.’
Lara Mimosa Montes
‘Electric, pornographic, mischievous, and deeply funny. Your Love is Not Good is a parable of the artist who in search of beauty encounters something far more intoxicating: ruin. Burn your diaries, kill your darlings, and go toast your real friends— this is the summer beach read you’ll be talking about for the rest of the year.’
‘A thin permeable line between love and hate, pain and pleasure, self-love, self-flagellation, and total narcissism. Hedva's characters show us the complexities of being (in)human(e) beings and push our faces into the mud, an antagonism inflicted unto ourselves as we bully, bruise, blur, and break our way into the waking world. Hedva's willingness to parse apart “love” from “goodness” is the honesty we're all here and have been waiting for.’
‘This precise page-turner of a tale about bad or nonexistent mothers, race, and the erotics of painting masterfully pins the art world to the buckram of its specimen tray, pointed sentence after sentence. Here everyone loses gorgeously, definitively – and lucky readers learn a lot about the game.’
‘Your Love Is Not Good is a whirlwind, and a mural, and a mirror – Hedva's prose is incisive and empathetic, wholly comedic and deeply poignant. This story about the life of our ideas, the trajectory of our dreams, and the burden of our loves is wildly moving and entirely original. Hedva deftly juggles questions of ambition and debt with what we owe others, and what we owe ourselves, resulting in a novel that's both honest and enrapturing. Your Love Is Not Good is a genuine blast.’
It's more than all this, but here is something about labour, the capitalist inseams in Identity, as expressed in an international art market that careens its participants – or is it the art?– towards suicide. For those needing – by hook or by crook, by rope, knife, mirror, or by truck – to leave something, or the art world, or the debt-collision of whatever they're doing, or even the internet for the next 24 goddamned hours, Your Love Is Not Good is very worth your beautiful time.’
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
'Your Love Is Not Good is a dazzling tale of claustrophobia and neglect. Swinging deftly between savage realism, scathing social satire, and brutal erotic haze, Johanna Hedva moves from agony to alchemy in this meticulously layered portrait of intimate corruption. Bursting into the broken places between shame and self-creation, trauma and accountability, righteousness and complicity, Your Love Is Not Good cracks open the art world to exorcise the pain of belonging.’
Booksellers love Your Love Is Not Good
'Your Love is Not Good is so captivating, one feels like being locked in the delirious process of creating art with the artist. An electric and obsessive prose exposing such honest vulnerability. Every chapter is like a painting by itself, with such vivid, raw, and colourful images, and everything comes together so perfectly – absolutely brilliant!' Lea Deppe, Bookhaus
'This ferocious novel is a spiralling trip into the art world and its fetishisation of identity. Sexy, stylish and sardonic, it's compulsive reading.' Daisy Arendell, Ink84 Books
Praise for Johanna Hedva
‘It’s fucking brilliant. I’m in love. If there have to be novels, On Hell is what they should do.’ Anne Boyer
‘Purchase or thrash: “genius”. Relocate an “Ancient Greek text” to “contemporary Los Angeles”. Does a geographical cure excrete ghosts, “visions of strange bodies poised and moving”, or does it produce a “deep, reverberating sound?” Johanna Hedva’s Minerva begins in this place and we go there, which is to say a reader does. Or might: float/trust this process of alchemical, pelvic, infinite, sub-maternal, and ceramic change.’ Bhanu Kapil
‘Reverberations of this book outlast everything else in our ears, “what felt like a skinned, feral cat breaching from my chest.” Definitely Minerva, goddess of genius and poems! Celestial messenger Johanna Hedva gives up gold after the cult following of their book On Hell. A (god)dess-sized reconstruction of the world we only thought we knew! Welcome home, poets!’ CAConrad
‘At some point while reading On Hell, I had the sensation that my heart had pushed through my chest, my brain had pushed through my skull, and my guts had pushed through my abdomen, and that I was, in solidarity with Hedva’s writing, wearing my insides on the outside of my body. Only writing this nakedly vulnerable could be this intensely embodied, and only writing this intensely embodied could be this insurrectionary.’ Brandon Shimoda