Joined Hands Are Stronger

Marian Hassan
The authors of the anthology are featured at a book event. (Photo courtesy Minnesota Humanities Center)

“Crossroads: An Anthology of Resilience and Hope by Young Somali Writers” is a book edited by Marian Hassan, featuring stories from young Somali Minnesotans. The anthology contains rich Somali oral heritage, with poems and stories that showcase the modern struggles and resistance of the Somali community.  

This book is a resource for educators who want to hear the experiences of Somali youth.

The 37 stories and poems feature trauma and loss, specifically loss of homeland.  

Hassan was born in Somalia. Growing up in Somalia, there was no voice to share what people were experiencing except through newspapers. Her father was someone who was often interrogated and detained because he was a human rights lawyer and had been an opposition to the Siad Barre regime. She knew that “individual stories were timeless and our path to freedom.” 

The book started to take shape when she submitted a concept paper to a publisher to collect stories of young people who were dealing with issues of identity, like being Muslim and being Somali, that might be difficult for others to understand. From the experiences she heard, she “thought their experiences were important to capture,” Hassan said. The book was published three years later.  

There were challenges in the process of making the book, Hassan said. “Getting the support of getting the book out initially, because I was a Somali woman. And sometimes there was a resistance to having the book gain the attention that it needed; it kind of dragged on for a while. And I remember saying, ‘What’s going on here? Why is it that this book is taking so long?’ Even though it was supportive … the movement took a long time.” 

Each of the stories in the book has importance. While reading, pay attention to every part of the story. 

“Every one of the stories is significant and has to have a space to be heard. … Some were incredibly sad, and some were joyful and happy. So many good things happen. But ultimately those stories are valid in their own merits, that they’re all worth attention and space,” Hassan said. 

The book will be a great way to bring Minnesotans together and will also help build understanding and empathy. It is available to purchase online at Itasca Books and the Minnesota Humanities Center.