Who’s Loving You? is a celebration of love in all its guises written by women of colour. With ten original short stories from bold new voices, literary prize-winners and national treasures.
Two souls come together and are torn apart, lifetime after lifetime. A seed of hope begins to grow out of the ashes of grief, heartbreak and loss. Romance sparks in the most unexpected of places. And an unbreakable bond is formed that transcends countries, continents and even the boundaries of time…
In this extraordinary collection, ten writers explore the full spectrum of love in all its messy, joyful, agonising and exhilarating forms. Celebrating and centering the romance, passion and desire of women of colour.
“𝑰 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒄𝒆𝒊𝒗𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒕𝒉𝒐𝒍𝒐𝒈𝒚 𝒂𝒔 𝒂 𝒘𝒂𝒚 𝒕𝒐 𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒆 𝒔𝒑𝒂𝒄𝒆 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝑩𝒓𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒔𝒉 𝒘𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒏 𝒐𝒇 𝒄𝒐𝒍𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒕𝒐 𝒘𝒓𝒊𝒕𝒆 𝒂𝒃𝒐𝒖𝒕 𝒓𝒐𝒎𝒂𝒏𝒕𝒊𝒄 𝒍𝒐𝒗𝒆 𝒊𝒏 𝒊𝒕𝒔 𝒎𝒂𝒏𝒚 𝒈𝒖𝒊𝒔𝒆𝒔, 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒖𝒔 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒕𝒐 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒅, 𝒆𝒙𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒊𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒓𝒆𝒍𝒊𝒔𝒉…𝑾𝒉𝒐’𝒔 𝑳𝒐𝒗𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒖𝒔? 𝑳𝒆𝒕 𝒖𝒔 𝒔𝒉𝒐𝒘 𝒚𝒐𝒖…”
As one of my Most Anticipated Reads for 2021, I’ve been looking forward to this collection of short stories for ages. A number of different writers have come together to create a beautiful collection of narratives focused on love, in particular, Black and Brown love.
After how much I loved ‘Love in Colour’ which made my Top 10 of 2020. I really had high hopes for this collection. Especially when I heard it would have stories from the likes of Kelechi Okafor and Sareeta Domingo…etc as I follow quite a few of them on social media.
At the core of this collection was romantic love, wrapped in layers of grief, familial/parental relationships, Afrofuturism, loneliness, diasporic experiences and so much more. To simply call it a collection focused on love would be a disservice to everything else discussed within the pages. These writers took what it means to be Black/Brown to them and cultivated stories rich in culture. I adored so many of these stories and was surprised by many.
The Watchers – Kelechi Okafor
I really liked this story. Written about life after COVID, it was truly interesting to see how Kelechi explores the love between these two characters. I loved all the current cultural references and I felt the omniscient view was particularly strong. It gave a sense of surrealness.
The sci-fi element was surprising and a very nice touch. It gave the writing a dystopian, afro-futuristic feel, which I really liked. It’s clear Kelechi really thought about what could change after COVID to prevent a pandemic happening again – and the lengths the government/people would go to ensure that.
In particular, it reminded me of Christianity and my own personal belief that God is always watching. He’s always there to listen and so much more. He’s a silent participant in every conversation. When the Watchers are discussing free will, it reminded me that whilst we have the choice to deem what we want to do with our lives, God has laid out a path for every single one of us. It is our choice whether we follow it or not.
“Time cowers in the face of loves many manifestations…”
Additionally, it made me think about soulmates and whether they exist. I’m not sure if they do. I know that you’re naturally inclined to get along with some people more than others based on interests and vibe. Kelechi explores this notion of love transcending time. A very touching message that I’m sure so many of us would appreciate.
And whilst, this wasn’t my favourite story in the collection, it was still very well written.
Long Distance – Varaidzo
This was my favourite story.
A beautifully written short story.
Varaidzo explores how each moment in life leads to a predestined future. But, most importantly, how even the most painful of situations won’t last forever. Some may even lead to your greatest blessing.
I adored May and June from the start. The mystery of their virtual relationship only added to the allure of the story. You’re left questioning whether they’re both crazy or if it’s actually happened.
“We became inseparable…as comfortable with one another as we were with our shadows…”
And obviously, I’m such a sucker for full circle moments that I felt so complete once I got to the end. It’s really rare, especially with short stories, that I’m not left wanting more from the story. Normally, I’ve loved it and wish for more from the characters. Or I just struggled with the pacing, which is extremely hard to get right because of the length.
Varaidzo beauty of a story was so well written and paced extremely well. I would be really interested to read more of her work.
Brief Encounters – Sara Collins
“What is grief, if not love perserving…” – Vision, Wandavision Ep.8
The entire time I read this short story, the above iconic line from Wandavision played through my head. Sara Collins truly explored grief against love.
Grief can truly destroy a relationship. It also has the power to bring people together, which is what we see here.
With these characters, a foundation was crumbling whilst a new one begins to build.
Collins conveys the many different manifestations of grief. She shows how people handle it differently. There is no perfect way to grieve. Which I think is the most important takeaway from this story.
I began to think about the relationship between grief and love. How love can exist without grief but grief cannot exist without love. Grief is a product of love and death.
“But now she knew all these things could stand side by side: love, grief and happiness; they had to, because they always did…”
Rani – Amna Saleem
I adored the relationship between the protagonist and her grandma. Probably, more than the actual romantic relationship. Through Grandma’s stories, Amna Saleem explores second loves and not wasting time due to doubts.
The theme of second chances was extremely prevalent. Especially, the idea of putting your pride aside (which often we all find hard to do). But it’s a subtle reminder that there’s no place for pride when expressing love. Pride is forced to take a backseat.
Again, grief is tied into this story. Perhaps, not as strongly as Brief Encounters but it’s still a significant theme.
I think here it was the protagonists love for her Grandma that I enjoyed so much. It was beautiful and heart-warming. For me, it was the centre of this story and I loved how it was positioned. It is through her Grandma, that the protagonist begins to explore love.
“I learned a long time ago that home can also be found in those with whom you choose to share your heart. I see my home in you just like I did your grandfather…”
The Motherland – Sara Jafari
I really liked this story.
Whilst at the heart of this stroy was a young woman grieving her mother. There was an undertone discussion of the portrayal of Middle Eastern countries by the West. Through this young woman reconnecting with her motherland and realising that everything she had heard about it – wasn’t true.
It was a strong reminder that the media can heavily influence how we view our motherlands. And that’s important for those within the diaspora visit their mother countries often. Form your own view of your countries outside of western influences.
In the case of this protagonist, she discovered that Iran was more beautiful than she could have ever imagined. Our protagonist begins to understand her mother’s decision to be buried there.
Also, there’s a strong ‘finding yourself’ element that blossoms slowly throughout the story as she discovers new foods, culture and even the people in Iran. The slow progression of her discovery was beautiful and probbaly my favourite part of the story
“But really young people here were no different to young people in England. Of course, they weren’t…People were all the same everywhere…”
There were so many other stories that I really enjoyed and I would love to talk about them more.
The Waves Will Carry Us Back by Sareeta Domingo and Rain…Doubtful by Kunchenga just to name a few.
As with all short story collections written by multiple writers, it becomes quite clear that some writers are stronger in places than others. It’s hard not to compare them, especially as they all have different writing styles. However, I enjoyed some stories far more than others and I was little disappointed by that.
Nevertheless, this is still such a strong short story collection and one that I thoroughly enjoyed overall.
A short story collection that most definitely explored love and romance for all British women of colour.