“Wrap Yourself in This Skin, Leave the Palace, And Walk so Long as You Can Find Ground to Carry You”: Twin Dialogues of Decolonising the Fairy Tale in Contemporary Literature

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Within contemporary fairy tale literature, two distinct approaches for decolonising the fairy tale appear. The first takes a familiar Euro-American tale and recasts it in the guise of another culture – such as Radiya Hafiza’s ‘Rumaysa’ (2021), Jessie Burton’s ‘The Restless Girls’ (2018), and Elizabeth Lim’s ‘Six Crimson Cranes’ (2021) – permitting western readers to mark any deviation as evidence of another culture’s presence. Although they do create spaces for representational diversity, decentring the European claim on such narratives, such texts perpetuate the idea of the Euro-American fairy tale as a universal folk narrative. Contrastingly, the second approach adapts a non-Euro-American narrative for a Western audience (examples include Sue Lynn Tan’s ‘Daughter of the Moon Goddess’ (2022), Jordan Ifueko’s ‘Raybearer’ (2020), and Angela Hur’s ‘Folklorn’ (2021)). The narrative sources of these texts are not part of Western readers’ immediate (inherited) fairy tale web and lexicon, meaning we do not instinctively understand the text’s allusions or points of reference. This complicates our ability to read and accept such texts as fairy tale literature – for “when novels retell lesser-known stories, the connection [to the fairy tale genre and intertextual web] can be dismissed by readers” (Williams 2021). However, by employing some allusions to similar and familiar Euro-American tales, these texts allow their reader to form new intertextual connections with alternate cultural narratives. This paper will compare and contrast these two approaches toward decolonising the fairytale.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 20 Jun 2024
EventThe 19th Congress of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research: Folk Narratives in the Changing World - University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia
Duration: 17 Jun 202421 Jun 2024
Conference number: 19


ConferenceThe 19th Congress of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research
Abbreviated titleISFNR
Internet address


  • Decolonisation
  • fairy tales
  • Children's Literature
  • Young Adult

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