I received a copy of Fairytales for Lost Children for free in exchange for an honest review from the author, Diriye Osman.
“Fairytales For Lost Children” is narrated by people constantly on the verge of self-revelation. These characters – young, gay and lesbian Somalis – must navigate the complexities of family, identity and the immigrant experience as they tumble towards freedom. Using a unique idiom rooted in hip-hop, graphic illustrations, Arabic calligraphy and folklore studded with Kiswahili and Somali slang, these stories mark the arrival of a singular new voice in contemporary fiction. (via Goodreads)
Fairytales for Lost Children is a collection of short stories that I found out about through Naz at Read Diverse Books, and I thought if Naz loved it, then I should definitely look into it! (You can read his review here.)
I’m not usually a short story reader, but I’m glad I read these because this collection is something that is often unseen in African communities, from my understanding. I certainly had never read anything like this before, and for that reason I’m really glad I read this collection. The prose was beautiful, the stories were incredibly emotional, and the illustrations were stunning. Quotes like these kept me reading:
“Home is in my hair, my lips, my arms, my thighs, my feet and hands. I am my own home.”
I think my favorite part of this collection was the illustrations, honestly. Created by Diriye Osman
himself, they’re absolutely stunning and a great addition to the collection.
I think this collection tells important (fictional) stories for people whose stories are routinely erased, but I didn’t love all of them. I found that most of the collection was very graphically sexual, which made me more than a little uncomfortable because so often, people in the LGBTQ+ community get reduced to their sex lives. However, I also realize that this is something that isn’t talked about, particularly in Islamic African cultures.
I loved that this collection also dealt with mental illness, and familial abuse, and that it was put in a way that will maybe help people see that it is absolutely okay to come forward about it – no matter who is making you feel unsafe.
“Regardless of how it’s dressed up, whether it’s presented as love from family or friends, abuse is abuse and I am unwilling to put up with it.”
Overall, the large amounts of sex made me not enjoy this as much as I wanted to, and in some stories, there use of languages that I didn’t know that made it difficult for me to follow along with the conversations. I’m rating this a three star book because of those things, but I think someone less uncomfortable with graphic sex scenes would enjoy this collection a lot more than I did. If this sounds like your kind of thing, you can pick it up on Indiebound or Amazon!
Disclaimer: All links to Indiebound and Amazon are affiliate links, which means that if you buy through that link, I will make a small amount of money off of it.