“I didn’t know I was here. But I am now. There’s beauty in grace. I will continue to dream wide awake. I will continue to soar.”
When Naz reviewed Fairytales For Lost Children, I could not help but be captivated by the illustrations and his descriptions of his favourite stories. I have not read any African LGBTQ narratives and when he tweeted that there were copies available for review, I gladly took the opportunity. After reading the book, I am spellbound.
There are so many things to love about this anthology by Diriye Osman.
The first, of course, are the illustrations that are so beautiful and graceful that they leap off the page.The second are the stories themselves. Each story has something for the reader to take away and it is honestly difficult for me to decide which ones are my favourites. In Tell the Sun Not to Shine sexuality and religion are juxtaposed, offering glimpses of a perfect hope and an inevitable heartache. The title story subverts fairy-tales and cookie cutter, “Disneyfied” narratives by giving us Kohl Black and the Seven Street Boys. This innocent but gritty story is one of the stories that I really loved.
Shoga is raw, full of conflict, and very memorable. If I Were a Dance felt very meta as I read it–it is a narrative about a dance recitalwhich tells the story of a realationship. I loved the narrators voice in this story. The heartache here is palpable.
Pavilion s a wonderul story about standing up for oneself in the face of transphobia and harassment, while Ndambi is about accepting oneself completely.
Both Earthling and Your Silence Will Not Protect You are are sensitive portrayals of characters who are doubly marginalized because of their mental illnesses. The Other Woman is a story of self-discovery that nearly brought me to tears. My Roots are Your Roots is lyrical and poetic.
What I really love about all the characters in all the stories is that they refuse to play the victim. They are confident, bold and unapologetic. This is what gives the darker themes their silver lining. A message of hope and happiness runs through these stories about loss and loneliness.
I especially appreciate the simple, yet beautiful and sensual writing, peppered with Somali and Kiswahili slang. The writing, coupled with the comments on Somali culture, really help one to immerse oneself while reading.
Reading this book was a fantastic, eye-opening experience, and I would sincerely urge anyone reading this review to go read the book.
FTC disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for this honest review.
Author Bio: http://www.diriyeosman.com/