Bolu Babalola’s Debut Collection Centers Women of Colour in Joyful Love

With Love in Colour: Mythical Tales from Around The World, Retold, the Nigerian British writer reinvents centuries-old love stories from West Africa, South Asia, and ancient Greece.
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Bolu Babalola. Credit: Refinery29.

Bolu Babalola. Credit: Refinery29.

The love stories in Bolu Babalola’s debut collection, Love in Colour: Mythical Tales from Around The World, Retold, take from popular euro-centric tales. The author reimagines stories that range from West African folklore to ancient South Asian legends and Greek myths.

A synopsis:

A vibrant collection of love stories from a debut author, retelling myths, folktales, and histories from around the world.

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.

Love in Color is a celebration of romance in all its many splendid forms.

“It’s such a great way of disrupting the mainstream idea of romance in my own way,” Babalola told Oprah Daily. “What we know is so Western and white. And in these stories, I’m centering women of color—mostly Black women—and exploring stories that aren’t just about struggle and pain, but of joy, love, and connection.”

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She said to Literary Hub, “I’m drawn to romance because romance and friendship is one of the clearest examples of what makes us human—the fear of exposure but also wanting to be seen, trying to be seen in a certain way. It really exposes us for who we are; romance is a great prism for us. So even writing Love in Color: I realized it’s bigger than romance actually; to love is the biggest prism with which to see ourselves as human. It really does make us human. That’s why I love the genre so much. It’s such a wide elastic genre.”

Bolu Babalola. Photo from bolubabalola.com.
Bolu Babalola. Photo from bolubabalola.com.

Bolu Babalola is a Nigerian British journalist, writer, screenwriter, and content creator. In 2016, she was shortlisted for 4th Estate’s BAME short story competition.

The New York Times Book Review said of Bolu Babalola’s writing, “In telling these stories, Babalola herself becomes the seer and the seen, subversively providing a corrective to both the Western idea of who gets to indulge in love for love’s sake and whose myths are worthy of retelling.”

Love in Colour: Mythical Tales from Around The World, Retold was published April 2021, by William Morrow in the US and Headline Publishing Group in the UK.

Paula Willie-Okafor
Paula Willie-Okafor is a staff writer at Open Country Mag. She is a student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where she is custodian of The Writers' Community (TWC). Her writing has appeared in Kissing Dynamite Magazine and Praxis Magazine.

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