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The Things I Would Tell You review – an anthology of British Muslim Women

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Kamila Shamsie and Ahdaf Soueif are among the contributors to this lively and varied collection put together by Sabrina Mahfouz

Sabrina Mahfouz has put together a lively, varied anthology. As she explains, the writers she has chosen all “identify as having both a British and a Muslim background, regardless of their birthplace, citizenship status or religiosity”. Their roots are in a dozen countries, yet the paths they have followed all cross and make a creative mark in Britain. There is great variety of form here too: as well as short stories, there are playscripts, poems and essays. Strong, impassioned voices speak out from the pages: Ahdaf Soueif laments the undermining of the “mezzaterra” where Arab and western culture recognised their common ground; Aisha Mirza rails against “white liberals” who “put our heads on sticks and call it multiculturalism”. Humour leavens the mix in Kamila Shamsie’s story of a makeup artist’s insights into her flawed clients, while the poets include several under 20 whose voices strike true. Perhaps Miss L’s funny and sad account of tamping down her acting ambitions thanks to typecasting can stand for all the women in the book, who just want to be heard.

The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write is published by Saqi. To order a copy for £11.04 (RRP £12.99) go to or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.

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