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“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
Uniquely written in a nontraditional narrative pace or semantic form, I was incredibly moved by this book and the multitude of voices and the creatively frayed, yet singular blend of LGBTQ+ issues and personal quorums passed on from author to reader.
From the sting of family rejections, battles with mental illnesses, the acceptance of self, fragments of broken hearts, to the culture and religious clashes and the impalement they left in their wake, I couldn’t put this book down. Set in Somalia, Kenya and London (not entirely in that order), these shorts stories are sure to leave an impact.
Set aside from the stories, the illustrations in this book, done by Diriye himself, are simply amazing. From page one, this book was incredibly beautiful, memorizing, raw, sexual, honest, unforgiving and personal.
And although the reader gets to experience a number of varied narratives tales, there seems to be a genuine, unified pull with similar narrative aesthetics with each story towards the middle of the book (more or less) which steadily seemed to taper off towards the end of the book.
Without giving away too much of each short story away, I found that there were three stories that spoke the most:
Earthling, which deals with mental illness, a bit of self acceptance and a loss of sisterly bound between a lesbian protagonist and her sister.
Your Silence Will Not Protect You, which appears to be told directly from the author’s personal experience, also deals with mental illness, but focuses strongly on the decline of the connection between a gay man and his family while also shedding light on harassment and rejection from within your own family.
If I Were A Dance, which revives the beginning and end of a relationship as the two men are pulled back together for a performance through dance.
Out of all the different messages each tale gives the reader, these three seemed to be some of the strongest and most lasting once I finished the book. It’s quick book to read, but one I think contemporary, LGBTQ+ fiction readers will enjoy coming back to. Moreover, I think this is a book that all book lovers, diverse book seekers, and real narrative seekers should get their hands on.
Thank you for checking out my review for Fairytales For Lost Children.
Until the next post,