Reviews||||||

The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write edited by Sabrina Mahfouz

31st Mar 2017

★★★★
The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write edited by Sabrina Mahfouz
The Things I Would Tell You is a collection of writings by British Muslim Women. It is edited by British-Egyptian playwright, performer and writer Sabrina Mahfouz and contributors include Kamila Shamsie, Leila Aboulela, Ahdaf Soueif and Imtiaz Dharker.

This powerful and timely anthology aims to dispel the myths surrounding Muslim Women’s identities and placing Muslim Women firmly at the centre of their own narratives, where they belong.

The Things I Would Tell You is a beautiful and haunting collection, with its evocative and sharp writing. This book stands apart for two reasons. First, the range of writing styles is varied and includes everything from poems, short stories, essays and a complete play! The second is the amazing mix of authors, both in their writing styles as well as their personal experiences.

Through these different mediums and voices, we meet characters from across the world dealing with universal subjects as well as specific experiences of being a Muslim Woman.

As a Muslim Woman of South Asian heritage myself, I found the book to be an essential read in helping me process my experiences and bridging the gap between what it means to be a Muslim Woman and what is perceived about Muslim Women in Britain.

There is no doubt that the strength of this anthology lies in its diverse voices and characters. Authors include literary heavyweights like Kamila Shamsie, Leila Aboulela, Imtiaz Dharker and Fadia Faqir alongside young and upcoming writers such as Asma Elbadawi, Nafeesa Hamid and Amina Jama to name a few.

There is no doubting the quality of the writing in The Things I Would Tell You, so I’ll say it just once: every single piece included is brilliant in its own right.

Amina Jama’s Home, to a Man and other poems is a melancholy collection evoking feelings of confusion, shame and fear. Chimene Suleyman’s short story Us lays out the very real consequences of the us vs. them rhetoric and the day-to-day impact of othering on a section of the British society.

Aliyah Hasinah Holder’s poem Sentence is hard-hitting and Kamila Shamsie’s short story The Girl Next Door struck a chord by delicately revealing the hypocrisy of South Asian society when it comes to women.

Azra Tabassum’s Brown Girl and other poems capture the very essence of what it means to be a Muslim Woman and a person of colour.

Islamic Tinder by Triska Hamid is a slice of much-needed truth focusing on the double standards of arranged marriages, and expectations placed on British Muslim Women.

Miss L’s Stand By Me deals with the lack of representation in the visual arts and the need to find our voices in an increasingly hostile industry.

The Things I Would Tell You anthology avoids tokenism and embraces diversity with an openness that is refreshing and I think readers of diverse collections such as The Good Immigrant or Nasty Women will appreciate the variety in this book.

The Things I Would Tell You provides a vital but fleeting glimpse into the lives of the unheard and is the perfect place to start for those looking to diversify their reading list.

Out now from Saqi Books