I love a good short story collection — I think as a writer, it takes so much talent to be able to capture so much meaning in a small space. But usually with any collection, there are always some standouts that really resonate with me, and some that don’t — that doesn’t make the collection better or worse, in my opinion. That’s just usually how it goes!
But with Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold, by Bolu Babalola, that was not the case. Literally every story was amazing and left me wanting more.
Quick synopsis: “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.”From the book description
These stories were absolutely magical and full of delight, most of them based on traditional tales from a variety of traditions cultures. However, Babalola rewrote each one in a way that I feel was so respectful and paid great honor to the original story while transporting it to a new time and place. Some stories were more recognizable, such as Pryamus and Thisbe, or Psyche and Eros. Others were more unfamiliar to me, but I loved having the opportunity to read the remix, then do my own research about the original.
What I loved most was how all the stories were so diverse in terms of not only race and culture, but also LGBTQ+ representation and much more. Some of the original stories that have their roots in homophobia or misogyny (like many stories that are ancient as these ones), Babalola turned those stories on their heads, breathing new life and making them inclusive. Most importantly, these tales were just as the title of the collection suggests — so full of love and pure romance.
While each story had something truly special, my personal favorites were Nefertiti, Siya, and Zhinu’s stories — but it truly was hard to narrow them down because I loved them all! In addition, Babalola also added three original love stories in there that I found equally as compelling as the remixes.
If you check this one out, which I highly recommend you do, I suggest reading only one or two stories at a time. They’re great to sit with and really think about — I got too eager and read up to four at once, but looking back, I wish I had slowed down a bit to enjoy the reading more. I also recommend reading the Author’s Note and Sources of Inspiration after the stories. The background work that Babalola put into this collection was truly jaw dropping and just made me that much more impressed with her work!
If you love short stories, Own Voices stories, amazing representation, mythology, and perhaps most importantly, love, then I think this is a collection for you.