Fairytales for Lost Children by Diriye Osman is this year’s Polari First Book prize winner.
Osman is a British – Somali writer and Fairytales is a collection of his short stories about young gay and lesbian Somalis and their experiences in Somalia, in Kenya as refugees and in Britain as immigrants. Osman writes equally fluently from the perspective of his lesbian characters as from his gay ones.This collection is unusual not only because of the rarity of African gay and lesbian perspectives in “gay western” literature but also because his characters are Muslim and their relationships to their families and to their own sexualities are bound-up in their relationship to their religion which Osman is not afraid to explore.
Is it a Good Gay Read? Yes, but word of warning here, while the title is Fairytales for Lost Children it contains frank discussions of sex, drug use and profanity so it’s not really meant for children lost or not.
Best Line: “I went where my blood beat.”
Number of Shirtless Men on the Cover: None, the cover features Osman fully clothed.
The Polari First Book prize is awarded annually to a first book by a writer publishing in English in the UK and can be prose, poetry, fiction or non-fiction.
If you’re interested in the other works nominated this year you can see the entire short list here.
If you are not familiar with Polari it’s a LGBT literary salon, which makes it sound much more pretentious than it really is. It’s actually a fun evening held monthly at the Southbank Centre in London. Hosted by Paul Burston who manages to consistently put together an evening of entertaining (and short just in case you’re worried) readings by poets, writers and performance artists. I recommend you check it out some time. Let’s call it a Good Gay Event.