Bite-size: The Story of Us | Hanna Ali

AFRIKULT.’S OVERALL RATING

The Story of Us | Hanna Ali

Hanna Ali is set to take the literary scene by storm with her dreamlike prose in her debut publication, “Sheekadii Noloshayada” / The Story of Us, a collection of four short stories published in Somali. Ali is the first contemporary writer to publish her debut in the Somali language as both in audio and e-book format. Hanna’s works have been described to accurately capture the unspoken tensions, hopes and wishes of displaced people. The unique, singular stories gently wrap themselves around your mind like your favourite melancholic song. Hanna truly shows: where there is pain, there is beauty.  We got to review the English language version of her collection.

In just four stories Ali invites her reader to absorb a snippet of her imagination which is laced with raw but brilliantly retold memories and experiences of her characters. Themes such as womanhood, blackness, forced migration, religion, family trauma and belonging are all touched upon and despite the short length of the collection Ali orientates her reader around these issues masterfully by having the courage to write about uncomfortable truths in such a way that makes you want to keep on reading. The tumultuous feelings of happiness but also grief make ‘The Story of Us’ (also the name of the first story in the collection) complex and utterly engrossing. A central theme present in each story is that of Identity, and what it means to come from a place you have had to leave and cannot go back to, only its presence has stayed with you, in the form of memories, in the colour of your skin, in your first language. Hanna Ali’s debut short story collection is skilfully crafted, leaving a powerful impression on its reader.

Published in 2017 by Market FiftyFour.

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