Hachette UK imprint Sceptre has bought a debut short story collection by the award-winning British Pakistani author Huma Qureshi after a four-way auction. It will publish Things We Do Not Tell the People We Love in November 2021.
Francine Toon, Sceptre commissioning editor, concluded the deal for the collection, plus an untitled novel, with Laurie Robertson at the PFD agency in London. Toon acquired British Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada. The collection includes ‘The Jam Maker’, winner of the Harper’s Bazaar Short Story Prize, and ‘Small Differences’, shortlisted for the Brick Lane Bookshop Short Story Prize. The collection itself was shortlisted for this year’s SI Leeds Short Story Prize 2020.
A former journalist with the Guardian and Observer often writing first person experience pieces, Qureshi also covers topics of particular interest to Muslim women and is interested in the clash between ‘old country’ beliefs and practices and western society. She has covered this in her autobiographical How We Met: A Memoir of Family and Falling in Love which will be published by Elliot & Thompson in spring 2021. The publisher says: ‘Growing up in Walsall in the 1990s, Huma straddled two worlds – school and teenage crushes in one, and the expectations and unwritten rules of her family’s south Asian social circle in the other. Reconciling the two was sometimes a tightrope act, but she managed it. Until it came to marriage.’
Born in the West midlands to Pakistani parents, Qureshi graduated from the University of Warwick in 2003 after which she worked as a journalist. She now lives in north London with her husband and son. She is the author of In Spite of Oceans (the History Press), which explores the stories of south Asian migrants coming to the UK.
Toon said: “I am over the moon to be publishing such a highly acclaimed writer as Huma Qureshi. Her debut collection of short stories is beautifully crafted, clever and illuminating. It has so much to say about the unspoken, with a heady, nostalgic atmosphere that feels at once classic and original. Everyone at Sceptre has fallen in love with this collection and we are proud to be sending it out into the world.”
Qureshi said: “As a reader, I have read so many beautiful, moving books published by Sceptre and edited by Francine Toon; as a writer, it means a great deal to me for my stories (and novel) to be published by a literary imprint and an editor I so deeply admire.”