L Is For Love Stories
Romance novels are written primarily by women. They are read largely by women. They are written for people who believe in love. In hope. And who are in need of a bit of respite from the stress of everyday life. Whether we read them for comfort, solace, or entertainment. They are necessary.
They are varied. They are pertinent. They matter.
NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE named DIAGRAM OF THE HEART as one of the best photo books of the year. It’s the compilation of images with translations about Muslim romance novels from Northern Nigeria. There’s a small but vibrant cottage industry of Muslim women writing romance novels, littattafan soyayya, in Northern Nigeria, a region best known for the acts of terrorist group Boko Haram. The writers face off with Islamic censors, and they sell their books in some of the same markets targeted by Boko Haram suicide bombers. The books are about love and marriage. Some are subversive and speak out against human trafficking and child marriage, while others are submissive, advising women on how best to please their husbands, offering fantasies of escape, and tales of the poor girl marrying the rich man. Guided by the themes of these novels, “Diagram of the Heart” explores romance, tradition, love and loss in the lives of women in Northern Nigeria.