A high-born Nigerian goddess, who has been beaten down and unappreciated by her gregarious lover, longs to be truly seen.
A young businesswoman attempts a great leap in her company, and an even greater one in her love life.
A powerful Ghanaian spokeswoman is forced to decide whether she should uphold her family’s politics or be true to her heart.
In her debut collection, internationally acclaimed writer Bolu Babalola retells the most beautiful love stories from history and mythology with incredible new detail and vivacity. Focusing on the magical folktales of West Africa, Babalola also reimagines Greek myths, ancient legends from the Middle East, and stories from long-erased places.
With an eye towards decolonizing tropes inherent in our favorite tales of love, Babalola has created captivating stories that traverse across perspectives, continents, and genres.
BOLU BABALOLA is a British-Nigerian woman with a misleading bachelor's degree in law and a masters degree in American Politics & History from UCL. She feels it is important to state that her thesis was on Beyoncé's "Lemonade" and she was awarded a distinction for it. So essentially she has a masters degree in Beyoncé. A writer of books, scripts, culture pieces and retorts, a lover of love and self-coined "romcomoisseur", Bolu Babalola writes stories of dynamic women with distinct voices who love and are loved audaciously. She is a big believer in women being both "Beauty and the beast". She is not a fan of writing her own bios.
I have mixed feelings about the anthology. I was very excited when it started and felt like some of the early stories had beautiful imagery and language. As it got further along the stories were more hit and miss as we towed the line between retellings and original stories from modern times. And while some stories the vivid descriptions painted a beautiful picture in others they just dragged out and failed to add anything of substance. I liked that these were non Western retellings included and those were well researched. Some I actually decided to look up the original mythology for more background. It was the more contemporary stories that I had a hard time following because they were laced with pop culture references and felt more like a story I was reading on social media. However it was interesting reading stories from the British Nigerian perspective and I'm thankful to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review.
First let me start by saying I was interested in this book because of five things:
1.The title, Love In Colour I find we need more stories about Black love and I was here for all of it. 2.The cover was also a major seller. This cover could be voted the best cover of 2020. 3.The fact that this collection was written by a Black Woman and it is her debut novel. 4.I also loved the book aims to retell mythical tales from around the world using Colour. 5.Also, while I am not a big romance reader, I was sold on, hook line and sinker.
In reading author’s introduction, I really got an appreciation for why she decided to put together this collection- she loves love, and who doesn’t love love?
I am not sure if it is because I did not read the mythical tales before they were retold in this book, but I cannot say I enjoyed a lot of the stories. I think of the 13 stories in this collection I really only loved 3, those being: Scherherazade Attem Yaa
I saw someone wrote a previous review where they basically said, had they read one story at a time, as oppose to reading the entire collection in one go, they would have enjoyed it more- and I have to agree. I read this book over the course of two days and while the setting, situation and characters were different, the stories all blended into each other and felt the same. There was such sameness to the stories that after awhile I became bored at how predictable they ended up being.
It is clear that Bolu can write and I look forward to what she comes with next.
A single author collection of stories about love and lovers, each one retelling or inspired by myth and folklore. Lots of them are from various African cultures, about half were new to me, so I don't suppose I got the full resonance, but all of them stood alone. All m/f except one f/f (an absolute cracker as well). Lovely writing, and lovely, lovely romances, almost all with joyous, hope-filled endings. It's probably shelved in litfic but no romance reader would regret picking this up. A thorough pleasure.
If you have been keeping track of what I've been reading for the last few months, you'll have noticed that I've mostly been reading nonfiction. I dont know why nonfiction is the only thing that can really keep my attention but it is what it is.
I started reading this book in February but I put it aside because while I was loving this book I knew that I wasn't in the headspace for it. I feared that if I pushed through and continued reading it I would start to dislike it so I put it aside until I was ready to finish it.
It was a great decision!
Love In Color is perfection!
Even the stories I didn't absolutely love are better than most things I've ever read.
I will read or watch anything Bolu Babalola writes!
I really, really, really didn't want to finish this book. I found it jarring, uninteresting, weird and awkward all at once. I actually skim read the last 4 stories, barely giving them a chance due to what I'd already read. I think it would be easier to begin with the good rather than the bad.
The only reason I am giving this 2 stars instead of 1 is because of the premises alone. Retelling mythical tales in both a modern and past setting sounds like an interesting idea, right? Right? Yeh. A lot of these stories start off strong and I'd be lying if the opening pages of some of them didn't genuinely peak my interest - however, that was often short lived. I guess "Attem" was a kinda cool story about political marriage (but the reason this was half decent was due to the severe lack of dialogue compared to the others). In all honesty, if this was pre-teen fiction, it would probably be alright, but it doesn't sell itself as that and it doesn't read like that.
Now, the bad.
The dialogue is some of the worst I've seen in a book. Honestly, it feels like a fanfiction. Here's an extract. In the "Yaa" chapter, Yaa is on her way to meet her husband Kofi. Disaster strikes as her significant other has been held up by a meeting, texting to let her know the reservation has been pushed back by 20 minutes. My god, in this 20 minutes, poor little Kofi's about to have his life turned upside down, but more about that later. Yaa gets in her taxi, and low and behold, it's her childhood sweetheart in the driver's seat. After some back and forth, Adric (the driver) states -
"Sorry I didn't get you anything for your birthday, by the way. I forgot on account of the whole us not speaking for six years because you shattered my heart into a million tiny pieces to date a tiny eared prince... Oh man. You're the love of my life. (p.109)"
If you can get over the fact that this is written horribly, you'll also realise that nobody has ever spoken like that ever in the history of mankind. So, after this encounter with Adric, the man who loves her (?), who is also now essentially a stranger, what is Yaa's course of action? She drives off with him into the sunset. That is not a joke. She drives off, with the stranger, who is a taxi driver, leaving her husband, who is a prince, and also has done little to nothing wrong, behind. What the fuck.
The stories really have this way of making you feel like you have no clue what's going to happen. Genius when you think about it. It subverts expectations as it's so bloody stupid. Bolu Babalola. What the shit. I should have known this was going to be rubbish through the opening stories.
The tale of "Scheherazade" really irked me. Essentially, she finds this amazing guy, Shahryar, but is afraid of commitment. Fair play. So what happens? She cheats on him. Yep. Now what's the moral of this story? I don't know. Shahryar forgives her immediately and essentially says he loves her and she says she loves him. It ends on "This is a love story" (p.37). No. No it isn't. This is shit. This chapter also has one of the best openings I have ever heard.
"Once upon a time. Except you and I don't feel bound by the temporal. Not in a pretentious mystical way... I felt this even when I told myself we were just a transient fling. I don't think I've ever fathomed a time when I wouldn't know him." (p.21)
This is so awkward, and there remains so many examples of bad syntax or just downright incorrect usages of words. It seems to scream "look at me I'm a good writer, I can use big words". Who the hell calls their booty call a ‘transient fling’. What does that even mean?
Ugh, I can't be bothered with this one anymore. If someone would like to help me understand why this has 5 stars on goodreads , I will happily listen, but for me, it is one of the worst books I have read in years. Avoid.
Bolu Babalola hat sich alte Mythen vorgenommen, die zu einer Zeit entstanden, wo das patriarchale System dominierte und die Gewalt gegenüber Frauen stark in den Mittelpunkt gestellt wurden. Die Autorin hat nun ihre Protagonistinnen in den Fokus gerückt und aktiv ins eigene Geschehen eingreifen lassen.
Diesen Kerngedanken der Neuinterpretation von Liebesgeschichten aus der Mythologie der Autorin Bolu Babalola mochte ich sehr. Vor allem die literarische Freiheit Grenzen zu sprengen.
Das Buch mit einem Seitenumfang von 310 Seiten beinhaltet mehrere in sich abgeschlossene Geschichten. Der Leser taucht in das Geschehene kurz ein und wird dann für einen kurzen Seitenumfang in ein Szenario hinein- und herausgeführt. Die Ausarbeitung der Figuren war in meinen Augen dadurch nicht stark genug. Ich hätte mir mehr Tiefgang gewünscht. Was ich jedoch mochte, war der moderne und frische Schreibstil.
Rep: non-white characters (stories based on tales/myth/history from Nigeria, Persia, Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Guinea, The Gambia, Southern Mauritiana, Lesotho, Egypt, China & Mesopotamia), bi character & wlw li
Galley provided by publisher
Love in Colour is an anthology of myth and folktale retellings from around the world. And, to be honest, it is probably one of the best anthologies I have ever read.
The stories are pretty varied in where they originate, but there isn’t a weak one among them. Yeah, so I had my favourites (who doesn’t), but each one is so good. Sometimes in anthologies, I can point to my favourites and my least favourites. Here, there was no way I could do the latter. Not one of them wasn’t really good.
(Though my favourites were Nefertiti, Thisbe and Zhinu.)
A major reason why this anthology was so successful for me was firstly how good Bolu Babalola’s writing was. But it was also writing that varied ever so slightly in tone depending on which story she was telling, and I loved that. Not to mention the stories themselves and the variety in just how they represented a retelling. Some were modern, some less so; some took the bare bones of the tale and fleshed it out in an entirely different context (like Thisbe). But each of them was excellent in how it was done.
I think, really, my only gripe about this was that, out of the whole anthology, only one story wasn’t cishet (Nefertiti) and I kind of wish that there had been more. Not that that at all impacted my enjoyment of the stories in any way (I mean, I always want fewer cishets). It was just something I noticed.
But if you like retellings, and want something pretty quick to read, then this anthology is for you.
A collection of ancient mythical love stories reworked with a modern twist? Great, right up my alley, love the concept.
The first two stories were decent but things soon went downhill. From the third story onwards, things were more miss than hit. Bolu is definitely a very capable writer but it is painfully obvious that she is an avid Twitter user. In fact, some parts of this book felt like one long Twitter thread which really cheapened the feel of the whole thing. A lot of the time, it was really serving 2013 Wattapad fan fiction.
There’s a severe lack of sophistication and originality in the way Bolu writes throughout, a shame because I know she can do so much better. I worry that this trend of writing books like long form Tumblr posts and squeezing in ‘relatable’ narratives that are clearly inspired by Twitter discourse is going to become more and more prevalent especially amongst authors from ‘diverse’ backgrounds: see my review on ‘The Hate U Give’.
I’ll cut Bolu some slack because this is her debut and I generally am a picky bitch, but I so wanted to love this book and was left disappointed. 2.5 stars.
Bolu Babalola's writing is lush and superb. There were so many beautiful and heartwarming quotes and passages in this book, it’s hard not to fall in love with the stories (the ones I fell in love with instantly, anyway). The female characters in this book were all so superb in their own way, and each one was amazing. She writes romances and love in the best way, and there were so many beautiful meet-cutes in this book.
Her retelling skills are TOP NOTCH. She bared the stories down, took the most important elements, and redid them in a way that made them authentically hers. I love how diverse the myths are, drawing from different cultures from Ghana, Nigeria, China, Rome, and Greece.
Since the book was split into two sections – one for retellings and one for “New Tales”, which are the author’s original stories, I decided to abandon the old tales and move to the new tales, since I couldn't get into the old tales. The first story in the New Tales, “Tiara”, was exactly what I needed. I enjoyed it oh so much and I knew there was hope for me and this book after all. After “Tiara”, I decided to read all the other stories out of order, and that’s how I read six others.
I enjoyed the first couple of stories I read, but I had trouble getting through the rest. I generally have trouble reading short story collections but I really wanted to read this one. I ended up getting the audiobook to finish the remaining stories, and I listened to “Scheherazade” and it’s one of my faves. I had so many DNFs in between the stories I read, and I kept picking and dropping this book over the space of three months or so. I would have just marked it as a total DNF but the amazing reviews I kept seeing on Booksta spurred me on. My amazing Booksta buddies - @a_lit_babe @the.eworm and @shelahthebookworm especially were on my case to give the book another trial, and I’m glad I did.
My favorite stories, in no particular order, are: Scheherazade Yaa Nefertiti Thisbe Tiara Alagomeji
This book is worth all the hype, okay?! But at some point I felt very pressured into loving it as much as everyone else was, when I wasn't feeling it AT THAT MOMENT. I love it now, so yay! Go get your copy!
I am so thankful to William Morrow Books for having this be a choice to pick from of their April books to review. It's not something I've seen many places and that is an absolute disservice to all of us because this book is AMAZING. I've read a few short story collections in the past year and this one by far makes it to the top of that list (shares the #1 spot in fact with The Secret Lives of Church Ladies). I am again in awe of anyone who can write a book. On top of that, a book of short stories that is done well SCREAMS massive talent to me. (I mean, you have to successfully present the characters, their back stories, the setting and then tell the story all in 20-30 pages?) I am absolutely blown away - so let's get to why.
The author introduces the book by talking about how much she loves love. You get why these stories are personal to her and from her author bio in the back you see she is Nigerian born and lives in the UK. (Female Nigerian authors have written some of my favorite books over the years - Oyinkan Braithwaite, Helen Oyeyemi, Jane Igharo to name a few and I will absolutely add Bolu Babalola on that list.) There wasn't one story that I thought was just okay. There almost wasn't one story I read that I didn't wish were longer because I wanted more out of all of them. I loved how they were all based off of fables around the world and how they were modernized.
It was such a fun, uplifting and different book to read and I want more, more, more! I will be fangirling about Ms. Babulola for a long time and will definitely make sure to spread the word on what a great book this is!
Thanks to William Morrow books and the author for my gifted finished copy in exchange for an honest review.
I didn’t think it was possible for a book to totally and completely over shoot my highest expectations. I was completely enthralled from the first page to the last. You know a book is brilliant when the introduction gives you chills.￼ Reading the 12 stories that make up ‘Love in Colour’ was the kind of immersive experience that one can only hope to experience while reading. This book was written to be read. It was written to be enjoyed. Its was written to be savored.
In these tales Bolu Babalola artfully and skilfully merges the modern with the ancestral, while creating perfect harmony. She takes classic romantic figures in mythology and remakes them in her image. They feel new and yet also steeped in the histories they emanate from. I mean, Nefertiti as a badass crime boss/vigilante is the story I never knew I needed!
The writing is nothing short of magnificent. It is rich and full and substantial while also being light and effervescent.￼ Her descriptive capacity is awe inspiring. I mean the way she describes Osun is just magical - like, it is beyond articulations how good that story was!
I love all of these stories but my favourite has to be Osun. It’s the first story in the collection and every word of that story is simultanuorly a caress and a sledgehammer to the senses. That story has such depth and movement. It feel so sensuous and yet powerful - I could not stop reading.
The only thing wrong with these stories is….I WANT MORE OF THEM! Bolu Babalola gives you twelve stories that make you wish they were self-standing novels. They are funny, sexy, warm and are teeming with the kind of love that epics are written about.
This is without a doubt one of the best books I have EVER read! Everyone NEEDS to go and get a copy!
3.5 Stars! I had seen a lot of positive reviews about this book from other Nigerian readers and so I was excited to check this out. Overall, I like this book, even though this was a situation where I liked the idea and mission of the book more than I liked the actual collection. This books comprises of a total of 13 love stories with mostly optimistic endings. In that sense, it can be considered to be a collection of romantic shorts, even if not all the stories can be considered romances per se. The first 10 stories are based off folktales /mythologies / ancient oral traditions from West, North and Southern Africa, the Middle East, China and Greece; the next 2 stories are complete originals from the author, whilst the last story is a real life fairytale based on her parents love story. I loved that the author set out to adapt well-known and lesser known stories, updating them to position female protagonists as the heroines and masters of their own destiny, giving them power and agency that many of the patriarchal tales stripped from them. I give the book major props for its aim and purpose and ambition. And I think for the most part it was well-executed.
For me, my issues with this collection, I think are mostly personal taste-based. I certainly understand why this book has been so highly acclaimed. The quality of the writing and use of language by this debut author, is absolutely stellar. If you are a reader that loves a beautifully-wrought turn of phrase or wittily-crafted nugget of social commentary, this will certainly be the book for you. To me, it is in the language of storytelling and writing and the sharp humour of the observations that this book shines. I’m not the biggest consumer of folk tales but I was somewhat familiar with quite a few of the stories and it was interesting to see how this author adapted and in many cases, modernized some of these problematic narratives. I think someone who enjoys folktales and oral tradition and mythologies would really enjoy this book because these are true adaptations- author doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel or retell the exact same story, there is simultaneously enough resemblance and variation that the adaptation is clearly genetically-linked to the original story but is more a second cousin thrice removed, than a full sibling.
As a huge fan of romance and love, interviews I had read from the author revealed a kindred spirit who also loved love and romance, so I went into this knowing to expect optimistic stories. Whilst as I’ve already said the language and storytelling were stellar, I found many of the actual stories a little basic and simple and lacking in enough complexity, time and space to build nuance. Because the author was doing full scale adaptations, changing the worlds where these characters existed, I feel like a lot of energy was spent setting up these new worlds and carefully building scenarios and sometimes less energy was put into differentiating the actual resolutions and relationships between the story. Many of the stories, for me, felt a little too sketchy in the sense of being perfectly-crafted, but then rushed into a too-quick, too easily-won “happy” ending, without much variation from other stories, given the set up. I found myself sometimes not caring about the characters and pairings and wanting more detail and complexity to make me “buy” their love story and in some cases, to convince me that their happy ending was indeed a positive outcome. For me, between the style of the writing, the set up of the stories and the short story format, sometimes the happy endings didn’t really fit with the story in the space of the short story. Perhaps some of these stories needed longer formats, more plot or more complexity after the initial set up. Even though I’m a romance person and most definitely a HEA person (not even so much a HFN person), I found that the bittersweet stories (like Scheherazade, Yaa, Siya and Zhinu) felt the most in sync with the structure of the stories and the most complete, because they felt the least rushed into a particular ending- probably because they had the most open-ended “resolutions.”
I really enjoyed the author’s original stories (Tiara and Orin) which REALLY highlighted her tongue-in-cheek sarcasm that is laugh out loud hilarious in its wit. How will I ever get over the line “Peng boy, don’t play me like a toy.” And the author’s humor and experience in her observations in these two stories and indeed in all of the stories shine through in the most relatable way for me as a Nigerian who grew up in a certain era and I think it also speaks to a global experience of being a young adult or a new adult in the current times. So many of the stories are YA/NA and so many of them feature black Africans and black people in general in situations that are so lived that the author’s authenticity will have you...clicking your hands in the air. I can imagine the kind of rom-coms this author would write and I salivate just thinking about them because her humor, her eye for the absurd and ironic, and her use of language are just *chef’s kiss* when she writes outside the constraints of adapting oral traditions.
This book was hard to rate because I love the concept, I love the writing, the humor, the representation and I enjoy this author’s perspectives- but I wasn’t really passionate about any of the stories. I more or less liked them all, but none stood out as a favourite, they mostly seemed like glimpses of longer romances that I really wanted her to write so I could inhale them. It wasn’t that the stories were in any way bad, they weren’t at all. I just didn’t get the character or plot development that would have made these prettily-written stories compelling for me in a way that would stand out and live in my memory. They were pleasant and satisfying, but the spice didn’t stay on your palate after you had turned the page. That said, with this author’s writing, I’ll read anything she puts out from here on out and with how smart and fun a writer she is, I’m sold. She’s ace!
There’s something to be said about an idea that is supported and given wings.
Reaching across countries and cultures to further the effect of tales that are probably centuries old is audacious and unique. When executed well, like they are here, they can leave you feeling inspired.
There were a few moments of boredom, that’s to be expected with any short story collection. You cannot have every story be perfection, some are just gonna resonate or hit harder than others.
The ones that hit me hard were: Osun, Psyche, Nefertiti & Yaa. Nefertiti and Yaa were my absolute faves of the entire book.
Nefertiti, in Bobalola’s story she is reclaimed as a bad bitch, with a female army rectifying injustices committed against the women around her in her community. Mob boss status, she’s a target to be undone when a seductress with a secret enters her orbit. Fire. I loved this story, it was dope.
Yaa captured something new about a particular experience a lot of newly post-college aged women go through — what am I going to do with the rest of my life? Where will I have the most impact? When joining forces with a life partner, is it worth sacrificing my happiness & work for something that I’m not sure that I’m going to get without much pain and compromise? What about what the heart really wants?
I love that Babalola takes Black women readers there, through all the emotions that one can have in a variety of situations. It was positive and uplifting in its execution. Minimal trauma even when she presents the drama. There’s love all around, even from overbearing parents and friends. The women all make their own choices. The intention of who she was writing this for was strong on this one. Not only does she state it over and over again. It’s felt and shared in so much of the subtext in these stories.
It really is a great effort and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 4.5!
I like the project of this collection in theory and hoped I would love it. In practice it was a bit mixed. Some of the stories were very strong, putting interesting, fresh, often more feminist spins on mythological tales. There's some great representation as well. But I definitely enjoyed some stories more than others. Some involve cheating or infidelity which I don't love reading, though admittedly that's also something you would find in certain mythologies as well. Several of the stories just felt too short or underdeveloped to really connect with or root for the characters. Sometimes things read as kind of cheesy. So it's a cool project idea, but I wish it had instead been fewer stories more thoroughly fleshed out, though I appreciate the centering of Black folks and the body diversity.
Ich wollte schon lange kein Buch mehr so mögen, wie In all deinen Farben. Doch leider wurde aus uns beiden keine Liebesgeschichte.
Und dabei fing eigentlich alles ganz gut an. Beim ersten Date mit Osum tat ich mir zwar zunächst etwas schwer, da mir nicht ganz klar war, zu welcher Zeit und an welchem Ort die Handlung spielte. Ich fand mich jedoch damit ab und mochte die Geschichte am Ende doch noch. Dann kam Scheherazade, die mich mit ihrer Tragik beeindruckte und auch Psyche konnte mich überzeugen, obwohl sie so zuckersüß war. Doch von da an lief es nicht mehr. Kurzgeschichten sind ohnehin oft nicht meins, da ich mich jedesmal neu hineinfinden muss und am Ende viel zu wenig weiß. Gerade dieses hineinfinden wurde mir hier schnell zu viel. Gerade bei Liebesgeschichten muss für mich so vieles stimmen, damit sie mich wirklich berühren. Und hier wurde dies alles zu oft und zu schnell von mir verlangt. Dazukommt, dass mir alle Charaktere zu perfekt waren. Natürlich sind es Nacherzählungen alter Legenden, ich mag aber gerne Darsteller, die mir Fehler haben.
Was mir jedoch sehr gut gefallen hat, war, dass die Handlungen in vielen verschiedenen Kulturkreisen spielten und auch PoC dabei waren. Dies macht die Sammlung doch sehr facettenreich.
This was a good anthology and a really solid debut. Bolu Babalola created some truly beautiful and romantic stories based on folktales and myths from non western settings.
In terms of enjoyment it was quite a mixed bag for me, I loved some of the stories (e.g. Attem and Nefertiti (f/f)), while others not so much. The ones set in the contemporary world felt a little out of place with all the pop culture references and didn’t completely flow for me with the rest of the collection. I did like the theme that ran through all of the stories of women who felt invisible or silenced and wished to be understood and loved, though it might have started to feel a bit repetitive by the halfway point. The writing was passionate and lovely and I’ll be on the lookout for more from the author in the future.
Y’all I devoured this book in a day. This book is a collection of short stories where Babalola reimagines non-Western folktales that centers BIPOC. All of the stories have the theme of love in common, big don’t go into this thinking it’s all cheesy romance because it’s 100% not.
While I definitely had a few standout favorites in this anthology, all of these stories were incredible. It is clear that Babalola is one heck of a storyteller, and I can’t wait to see what else she comes up with next.
Thank you to William Morrow for providing a finished copy for review. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
This debut short story collection is mostly a retelling of love stories from history and mythology, focusing on West African folklore and Greek mythology. I'm not a short story fan nor do I care for love stories, mythology, or retellings, so am not at all sure why I might have requested such a book in a giveaway; but it showed up in my mail and I felt obligated to give it a try. Romance lovers would appreciate this much more than I did, I am sure. Thirteen stories, and I think I might remember two or three.
I will say that the name Bolu Babalola has quite a fun, memorable ring to it, and her writing skills convey her cleverness and talent. If she writes something outside of love stories someday, I wouldn't hesitate to try her again. This one just wasn't a good fit for me.
OK, taking another look, I see that Harper Collins comped me a copy, which was a surprise for many reasons.
Eine feine Sammlung von Kurzgeschichten, die von verschiedenen Mythen und Legenden inspiriert sind. Die Kurzgeschichten sind irgendwo zwischen 3 und 5 Sternen. Die Geschichte von Scheherazade fand ich genial (meine Lieblingsgeschichte aus dem Buch), aber Psyche z.B. fand ich etwas zu flach und oberflächlich.
Alle Geschichten verbinden der große Bezug zur Liebe und vor allem auch die starken weiblichen Protagonisten, die alle sehr stark und gefühlvoll waren. Eigentlich hat mir das am meisten gefallen: die gefühlvolle Erzählung, farbenprächtig und bezaubernd. Das Cover passt hierzu natürlich perfekt! Außerdem haben mir das Vorwort und auch die kleine Erklärung zu den Mythen am Ende geholfen mich besser in die Geschichten hineinzuversetzen. Es war ein rundes Buch, aber ich fand, dass das Potential von der Autorin nicht komplett genutzt wurde. Ich bin allerdings gespannt auf das nächste Buch von Bolu Babalola!
** Dieses Buch wurde mir über NetGalley als E-Book zur Verfügung gestellt **
A lovely collection of short love stories, some that are derived from West African original folktales and myths. Bolu Babalola has given these tales a contemporary retelling, that makes me wish I had heard of the original stories for comparison sake but even without this comparison, these reimagined stories feel very authentic in their own right.
My favourites are: Thisbe, Zhinu, Nefertiti, Attem and Naleli. All had just the right balance of culture, captive settings, romance and creative character development centered around strong women. I definitely would read more from the characters in those stories. Some of the others didn't grab me in the same way, but as with all anthologies, each reader finds their own favourites.
I took my time reading this book because I wanted to savor each tale nightly. Babalola takes great care to respect and honor the basic legends of goddesses held in African, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Mesopotamian folklore. There's a tale for everyone ranging from Osun to Shahrazad to three new ventures of three women finding their way and time towards love (i.e., "Naleli" involves a girl with vitiligo who knows her beauty exists beyond what people see upon her skin). For those unaware of said stories, the author's note lists where each story hails.
These stories demonstrate how to love or the promise of love without extra burdens placed on stories of color. They exist as tales anyone can relate.
Short stories normally are not my thing. They often leave me wanting more or do not ring my bell. But, I love when a collection or author pulls me out of my funk by providing me a reason to rethink or reset my mindset. While some collections leave you liking some and disliking a few, this collection rings my chimes with each turn of the page. In other words, skipping a story does not exist in this book's realm.
The only critique I possess is the use of African-American slang and cultural aspects (e.g. music, film) that often threw me for a loop and pulled me out of the story as it feels force to gain some hip favor from its reader. Yeah, we're cool and all, and our culture punctuates outside our country's border, but when I read a Black Brit/British-Nigerian's work, I want to get lost in that world too. But, it's a small aspect, not one that ruins the stories.
If you love romance, and yearn for stories about color, live and in color, pick this lovely collection for your bookshelf. The beauty lies, not only on his splendid cover, but also on the page.
I appreciate Babalola re-telling the tales in a way where women were centered and removing the predatory characteristics in the original tales. The author's note reads "It was less about being chosen and more about their agency in allowing themselves to love and be loved".
The blurb states that the book takes a step in decolonizing tropes of love but it only scratched the surface. Unfortunately, this anthology is heavily cisgendered and there's more to decolonizing than just Black and Indigenous people happily falling in love. Decolonizing also means centering Trans people especially when the gender binary is a direct result of colonialism in places like Nigeria among the Yoruba people, for example. I wish such stories were woven into this book. I also expected to travel around the world, as the title states, but most of the stories were centered in West Africa, which is fine, but I would’ve loved to read tales from Latin America, the Caribbean and India, to name a few. In addition, the stories were only romantic and very basic "boy-meets-girl-love-at-first-sight" when platonic love also exists, and is just as beautiful.
I only enjoyed two stories - Osun and Nefertiti - but they were not enough to redeem the anthology. Osun, the opening tale, was so atmospheric I almost felt like I was there at that moment watching everything unfold and Nefertiti contained my favourite romance trope.
I would not recommend this book but I do look forward to Honey and Spice, a novel, from the same author
💐💐💐💐 (four stars, as rated in colorful bouquets of flowers!)
I was given an Advanced Reader Copy of this book via netgalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Oooh what an unexpected delight this book was! I have such a soft spot for retellings of traditional stories, so of course I had to read this collection. ESPECIALLY, when I figured out that the majority of them were given highly original twists… FOR EXAMPLE, I invite you, if I may, to imagine Mount Olympus but as…. *dun dun dun*... an office building?!?!? Y’all. I am HERE for all of that water cooler gossip. Like, can you even imagine!? BAH.
As with any anthology, some stories packed a better punch than their counterparts. A few of them hit with so much ka-PLOW that I was genuinely, SHOOK when I finished the story. While others settled much more gently. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed one style more than the other. Also, just so we’re clear, there are a handful of completely original stories at the end that deserve praise in their own right.
Would absolutely recommend this book. Honestly, I’m only docking that last star because I wanted more queer relationships from this collection and am bummed that I only got the one.
Content Warnings for this book: bullying, body shaming, death, arranged marriage, hospitalization, violence, war, slut shaming, sex
Babalola explores the various colourations of love, from an African kingdom to a modern day fashion firm, juxtaposing the tales with various myths from around the world which she is able to enliven by exploring the stories from a female perspective, as she puts the thoughts, desires and experiences of the female protagonists at front-and-centre of the short stories.
Whilst there are no duds in this collection, a few of the stories in particular stand out. ‘Thisbe’ explores the bourgeoning romance between two flat-mates, as they gradually realise, understand and act on their mutual attraction and there is something irrepressibly romantic about the life-long romance depicted in ‘Alagomeji’, whereas the rambunctious ‘Nefertiti’ combines Borges with feminism, however the strongest story is ‘Orin’ where two people find solace in each other during mutually bad dates. There is thread of humanism and empathy which runs through all of Babalola’s stories, a sense of sympathy for the lonely and, at times, lugubrious, from the diffident teenage singer longing for some meaning in her life in ‘Zhinu’ to the girl who feels hopelessly alienated by her vitiligo in ‘Naleli’.
Babalola is able to skilfully explore and dissect the trappings of modern romance, from dating to social media and, beyond the sense of cynicism wh
13 romantic tales: 10 myths retold, and 3 'new' tales. Lively and energetic. A highlight for me was the story 'Naleli' featuring a girl with vitiligo. In the author's own words, myth is often 'rife with misogyny and violence' but here she was 'able to reimagine these stories in a manner that meant that the women were centred; it was less about being chosen and more about their agency in allowing themselves to love and be loved.' This is passionate and vibrant - and youthful - there's not much in the way of older characters which I would have loved to see in this context. All the stories give centre stage to romantic love more than other types of love, mostly girl-meets-boy, with just one exception in Nefertiti. Bit of stereotyping in ‘Zhinu.’ Occasionally overwritten, but maybe that goes with the territory...
An absolutely compelling set of short stories exploring various myths both familiar to me and unknown to me. My favorite story involved two warriors, one also a queen, who finally succumb to their pining before going off to fight and maybe perish. I'm a sucker for "let's live tonight, for tomorrow we may die" so that hit the spot for me.
I reviewed a complementary copy of the audiobook from HarperCollins audio for Library Journal, and checked out a print copy from my library.