Title: The Things I Would Tell You
Editor: Sabrina Mahfouz
Publisher: Saqi Books
Published: April 3rd 2017
Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟
From established literary heavyweights to emerging spoken word artists, the writers in this ground-breaking collection blow away the narrow image of the ‘Muslim Woman’.
Hear from users of Islamic Tinder, a disenchanted Maulana working as a TV chat show host and a plastic surgeon blackmailed by MI6. Follow the career of an actress with Middle-Eastern heritage whose dreams of playing a ghostbuster spiral into repeat castings as a jihadi bride. Among stories of honour killings and ill-fated love in besieged locations, we also find heart-warming connections and powerful challenges to the status quo.
From Algiers to Brighton, these stories transcend time and place revealing just how varied the search for belonging can be.
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review!
I don’t read many anthologies but, as a British Muslim woman, I was really excited to read this one. The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write is a diverse collection of short stories, essays, plays and poetry from Muslim women across the UK.
“IT NEVER FAILS TO SURPRISE ME HOW MUCH REPRESENTATION CAN EMPOWER AND HOW MUCH NON- OR MISREPRESENTATION CAN DISEMPOWER.” – INTRODUCTION BY SABRINA MAHFOUZ
Unlike most anthologies I’ve read, the pieces here aren’t connected by a single theme, but some of those that really stood out to me were written on the themes of identity, gender and cultural traditions. I particularly enjoyed the poetic pieces, and Kamila Shamsie’s short story The Girl Next Door.
“INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. UNLESS YOU ARE MUSLIM AND THEY FORGET WHICH ORDER THE SAYING GOES.” – US BY CHIMENE SULEYMAN
As the target audience, I didn’t necessarily connect to any of the pieces in the way I was expecting to. That being said, I believe this anthology is still incredibly important and most definitely not just for Muslims. The collection of writing reflects the diversity amongst the Muslim population across the globe, and this is something that is rarely addressed in literature. Muslims are too often mistakenly thought to be a monolith which is far from the truth. There are so many schools of thought and sects in Islam!
Overall, this anthology is recommended if you’re looking to read diversely; each voice is united in its experience of being a Muslim woman but there is so much variety in age and ethnicity amongst other factors, with the youngest contributor being only fourteen years old. It’s a fairly short read but also far from light in terms of the themes that are covered. I will definitely be checking out other work(s) from some of the amazing writers I’ve discovered through reading it!