Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Things We Do Not Tell the People We Love by Huma Qureshi


Reviewer:
Catriona Troth

What We Thought of It:


Huma Qureshi’s Things We Do Not Tell the People We Love is a collection of stories about the fractures that run through relationships. Between mothers and daughters. Husbands and wives. Friends and mis-matched lovers.

There is the supressed memory of a sexual assault, buried so deep it has never seemed important enough to tell the man she loves. We meet a daughter who, heartbroken at the death of her father, attempts to poison her mother. Another who pushes her mother from the balcony of a hotel bedroom. A mixed-race engaged couple break apart over a failure to see each other’s point of view. A wife in an arranged marriage slides into post-partum depression with a husband with whom she cannot connect. Another folds paper cranes as she recovers from her third miscarriage.

Listing the themes makes this collection sound dark, even grim. Yet something about it nonetheless feels like soul-food. Life-affirming.

Qureshi’s language is often lyrical, conjuring beauty even when her mood is dark. “In the afternoons, lazy white clouds rolled through the sky like long cats, casting a thin shade between dissolving to let the sun stretch into the evenings again.” In another story, loose stars roll like spare change across the city sky. There is a recurring image of floating paper – not just the origami cranes, but butterflies floating like bits of ripped paper in the breeze, petals of bougainvillea scattering like paper hearts falling in slow motion.

Longlisted for the 2022 Jhalak Prize, this is a collection of stories that would bear reading and re-reading.

You’ll Enjoy This If You Loved: Subjunctive Moods by C G Menon; Love Across A Broken Map by The Whole Kahani

Avoid If You Dislike:
Stories about the things that break relationships

Perfect Accompaniment: Folding an origami paper crane

Genre: Short stories. Literary

Buy This Book Here

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