Thursday, 1 October 2020

Love in Colour by Bolu Babalola

 

Reviewer: Catriona Troth

What We Thought Of It:

What a joy this book was to read!

Bolu Babalola has taken raw material from folk tales and mythology around the world and spun from it a paeon to romantic love, in all its manifestations.

The mundane mystique of romantic love that is ubiquitous at a glance, but, when you look closer, you notice the tessellations of understanding, patience, friendship and attractions. She sees both the miracle of the spark lighting and also the working, because it takes work, and for the work to work, you have to respect each other, like each other.

In this collection of tales, figures familiar to those with a classic western education (Psyche, Scheherzade, Nefertiti, Thisbe) recount their stories alongside a pantheon of characters from Nigeria, Ghana, Lesotho, China, Korea.

Some have been transported into the modern world – others remain in a version of their original setting. Thus Osun, a Nigerian river deity, becomes a sports star at an elite school. Psyche works in the cut-throat world of the fashion magazine. Nefertiti operates in the criminal underworld of a contemporary-feeling dystopia

As Babalola says in her Author’s Note, many of the original tales were “rife with misogyny and violence and were created within heavily patriarchal contexts.” She has transformed them, placing the women at the centre of their stories; giving them agency, power, discernment.

Here are childhood sweethearts and first date flirtations. Partnerships built up over many years and alliances forged in a red-hot minute. Some of the stories and sexy and others tender, some crackle with wit and some are heartbreaking.

Bablola’s dialogue is wonderful. I would love to see these done as a series of television shorts (directed by Michaela Coel perhaps?). They would surely fizz out of the screen as they fizz off the page.

The last few stories are not grounded in mythology but are Babalola originals, and the last of all, reading between the lines, is a tribute to the author’s parents. If so, no wonder they raised a daughter with such sensitivity to this most transformative of emotions.

You’ll Enjoy This If You Loved: Love Across a Broken Map by The Whole Kahani, The Nearness of You by Sareeta Domingo

Avoid This If You Dislike: Happy endings; Celebrating love without a shred of cynicism

Perfect Accompaniment: A glass of rosé

Genre:
Romance, Mythology, Short Stories, Contemporary

Buy This Book Here

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