Sceptre has won a four-way auction to publish Huma Qureshi’s debut short story collection, Things We Do Not Tell the People We Love, next November.
Francine Toon, commissioning editor, did the deal for the collection, plus an untitled novel, with Laurie Robertson at PFD, acquiring 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.
With themes extending to loneliness, secrets, family and displacement, as well as a yearning for love, the stories see a daughter asking her mother to leave her alone, only to disappear for good; an exhausted wife walking away from the husband who doesn’t understand her; and on holiday, lovers failing to connect away from home.
"In deft, elegant prose, Huma Qureshi captures the silences within our most intimate relationships and explores the secret inner lives of first-generation South Asian women," the synopsis reads, adding that the author "exposes the silences in families and the parts of ourselves we rarely reveal".
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."
Qureshi, a former Guardian reporter, is also the author of In Spite of Oceans (The History Press) and How We Met: A Memoir of Family and Falling In Love (Elliot & Thompson).