Fairytales for Lost Children by Diriye Osman

FFLCIt was timely that we started reading this as the refugee/’migrant’ crisis flared up. We were grateful to read a Somali writer. One member experienced powerful meetings with the author through each story and felt that eros jumped out of most pages.

The book is beautifully produced with a covert that is pleasant to hold and with lovely line drawings/woodcuts.

The author knew that he loved boys by age 6. The experiences portrayed in fiction mirror those told in non-fiction in ‘Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East’ by Brian Whitaker https://gaymensbookclubbristol.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/unspeakable-love-gay-and-lesbian-life-in-the-middle-east-by-brian-whitaker/. Both books are insightful clarion calls for acceptance and compassion with differences.

The title ‘Fairy tales’ is almost a single entendre.

Some of the stories were quite powerful but many were more like documentary that short story. Because of this, some said that they really wanted to like it but felt disappointed.

I especially liked “Tell the Sun not to Shine”, where a Muslim recognises the imam at Peckham Mosque who was his lover years earlier in Nairobi.

Also the story about the Somali teenager who became the lover of his grandmother’s servant from Burundi.

I liked the teacher turning Snow White black.

Particularly vivid is the story with the lesbian turned psychotic, having internalised all the insults and harassment she had suffered. This portrayal of the author’s fractured self was particularly moving.

I liked the gaydar story though we thought its ending was silly..

Some wondered why a man wrote sometimes as a woman. Is this the result of the schizophrenia suffered by the author, a reflection of gender being fluid, or was it something he was encouraged to do by his creative writing tutor? Carl Phillips does this sort of thing much better.

There were lots of words that I didn’t understand but tried to look up dhuux (p. 18) – to no avail.

Don’t use Vaseline with condoms.


“We became two strangers bound by blood and bad history.”

“I’ve always loved being gay. Sure, Kenya was not exactly Queer Nation but my sexuality gave me joy. I was young, not so dumb and full of cum!

There was no place for me in Heaven but I was content munching devil’s pie here on earth”

‘Your silence will not protect you’

“We may not have the power to choose the family we’re born into, but we can certainly choose the family we choose to make our own”

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1 Comment »

  1. […] Diriye Osman explains why he wrote Fairytales for Lost Children. https://gaymensbookclubbristol.wordpress.com/2015/09/24/fairytales-for-lost-children-by-diriye-osman… […]

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