The Folger Spotlight

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Words, Words, Words: ‘Love in Color: Mythical Tales Around the World, Retold’ by Bolu Babalola

The Folger’s virtual book club, Words, Words, Words continues on Thursday, June 2 with a discussion of Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalola. To get ready for the conversation, we’ve compiled some introductory information on this collection of contemporary takes on global myths.


What is Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold about?

Book cover of Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World Retold by Bolu Babalola, showing a colorful illustration of a Black man and Black woman about to kiss

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.

Critical Reception

“A sharp sense of purpose sheathed in humor glints through every story, which are delightfully varied in subgenre, voice and time period . . . Babalola’s writing shines whether she’s writing parry-riposte banter or fresh, evocative interiority; each story will likely find readers who choose it as their personal favorite in the book. “Love in Color,” as a whole, is a strong and necessary reset of who is the seer, who is the seen, and who gets to do both.”—The New York Times

Why did we pick this book?

The Folger Shakespeare Library’s collection explores not only Shakespeare’s life and works, but also the plays’ historical context, source material, critical and performance histories, and the ways in which they inspire and are adapted by contemporary novelists.

Shakespeare often engaged with Greek mythology in crafting his plays, using the imagery to enrich his stories.  Two of the myths Babalola chooses to retell in her collection—Cupid and Psyche and Pyramus and Thisbe—have strong connections to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, offering an opportunity to consider the through lines of mythological adaptation that connect Shakespeare to contemporary authors.

[Read more about Greek mythology in Shakespeare]

About the author: Bolu Babalola
Adapted from her website

Bolu Babalola, a young Black woman in a black turtleneck and long dark hair raises a hand to her while starting at the cameraBolu Babalola is a British-Nigerian woman with a bachelor’s degree in law and a masters degree in American Politics & History from UCL.  A writer of books, scripts, culture pieces and retorts, a lover of love and self-coined “romcomoisseur”, Babalola writes stories of dynamic women with distinct voices who love and are loved audaciously and believes in women being both “Beauty and the beast”.

Meet our Bookshop Partner: MahoganyBooks

MahoganyBooksThis month, we are excited to again partner with MahoganyBooks, located in DC’s historic Anacostia neighborhood. MahoganyBooks believes in social entrepreneurship, and is dedicated to meeting the literary needs of readers in search of books written for, by, or about people of the African Diaspora.

Order online, or by calling 202.844.2062. Please note, some titles may be on backorder or being reprinted via the publisher and will take approximately 1-2 weeks longer to ship. Visit the FAQ page for additional questions.

To learn more, visit mahoganybooks.com.


Make a plan to join us on Thursday, June 2 to discuss Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold. Visit our website to register and stay tuned for additional Folger resources to enrich the conversation.


We would like to thank the following organizations for their generous support of this program:

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