Things We Do Not Tell the People We Love by Huma Qureshi – tales of everyday tragedy

Holly Williams in The Guardian:

Huma Qureshi has the perfect title for her short story collection. Things We Do Not Tell the People We Love strikingly encapsulates a major theme of the book: the inability to communicate honestly with the most important people in your life. Qureshi’s stories keenly identify the everyday tragedies of feeling profoundly unknown or unheard, of holding secrets and misunderstandings.

Formerly a writer for the Observer and the Guardian, Qureshi published a memoir, How We Met, earlier this year about dating men her parents considered marriage material, before falling in love with a white British man. Her own story could slot neatly into this, her first fiction anthology. Qureshi’s stories feature a cast of – mostly – youngish women of Pakistani heritage, often struggling with overbearing, judgmental and oppressive mothers, blindly insensitive male partners, or both. These tales vividly capture the experience of feeling constrained by family expectations, but also of not quite fitting the norms of British culture either.

The terrain can get repetitive; this dilemma is usually felt by women who’ve left behind immigrant communities for a white, middle-class London milieu; there are many writers and journalists. Pressure points recur, too: in several stressful holidays, tolerable relationships become intolerable. And occasionally, the responses to monstrous mothers tip into melodrama; although it won the Harper’s Bazaar 2020 short story prize, I didn’t quite buy the murderous intent in The Jam Maker.

More here.