Fairytales for Lost Children by Diriye Osman

November 16, 2016
FairyTales for Lost Children, Diriye Osman, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Team Angelica Publishing on September 1, 2016
Format Read: Paperback Edition (156 pages)
Genre: Short Story/ LGBTQ/ Somali
Series: Standalone
Source: Author Request
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4)
"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.



This was a beautiful exploration of what it's like to grapple with your identity. It illustrates how people toil just to exist as they need to; as a minority, as a lesbian/gay person, as a refugee and as someone who identifies with a religion that demonizes parts of themselves. These short stories are intimate glances into young people's lives who are discovering themselves. The writing is wonderful because it seamlessly flows from thoughtful prose into believable dialogue. Most of the stories are about Somali refugees who dream of home, while dealing with the pain of being rejected from their Somalian and Muslim community's.
"In the end something gives way. The earth doesn't move but something shifts. That shift is change and change is the layman's lingo for that elusive state that lovers, dreamers, prophets and politicians call 'freedom'."
There are wonderful illustrations between each chapter that  whimsically interpret the themes in each story. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy great writing and reading about gay and lesbian marginalized voices. Below are short summaries of each short story to pique your interest and give you more context:

Watering the Imagination - focuses on a mother's understanding of her daughter's happiness s more important than her understanding of it.

Tell the Sun Not to Shine- follows the lives of  two adolescents who experimented together, but later occupy very different roles in their community.

FairyTales of Lost Children- explores how quickly, naively and tragically friendship can being and end.

Shoga-  follows a young man who is demoralized by his loved ones and struggles to accept it.

If I Were A Dance-  a couple comes back together to  interpret their relationship into dance for a show, the dance leads them to both to grapple with the truth of that relationship.

Pavilion- is about a transsexual woman who flamboyantly flaunts her otherness, and vulgarly rejects those who don't.

Ndambi- is about loving someone beyond their dislike for who you are, and learning to cope with the loss.

Earthling- is about a woman who is dealing with her declining mental health, and trying to be in love with someone who has s struggling to keep her grip on reality.

Your Silence Will Not Protect You- details the often long, painful and sometimes dangerous process that coming out to a intolerant family can be.

The Other (Wo)man- is about struggling to learn  gender boundaries, relationship honesty and being comfortable on the journey to a choice.

My Roots Are Your Roots-  is about two men finding home with each other and not living in the beauty of love and intimacy with each other.
"But I've learnt that when is comes to being an African artist working in a white field, tutors or patrons want my experiences to reflect their fantasies: the cliched notion of the noble savage. Sometimes you have to give in, because they hold your destiny in their hands."
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.


Diriye Osman is a Somali-born, British short story writer and visual artist. His writing has appeared in 'Time Out', 'Attitude', 'Prospect', 'Poetry Review', 'Kwani?', 'Jungle Jim', 'Under The Influence' and 'SCARF Magazine'.

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