Found/Saved/Subscribed/Shared - Huma Qureshi

What content has Huma Qureshi noticed recently, and why?

Hi again.

This week we’re bringing you the sixth interview in this format (check out previous interviews with Steve Bryant, Rosie Yakob, Anab Jain, Anubha Bhonsle and Dan Taylor-Watt). We’ll be changing the format again soon but before we do we’d love to know what you think of it. Does it feel useful? Let us know in the comments. We may bring it back again in the future.

This week we have a very engaging author sharing her thoughts on what she likes from her media. I first came across her work when I read her memoir a couple of years ago, which was a really lovely, engaging, cross-cultural romance.

Say hello to Huma Qureshi. Here’s today’s:

Huma Qureshi is the author of three (soon to be four) books, including her short story collection Things We Do Not Tell The People We Love and her memoir How We Met: A. Memoir of Love and Other Misadventures. She lives in north London with her husband and three sons. As well as writing books, she mentors and teaches creative writing courses through her website. Each month, she shares her advice through her email letters, Dear Huma, whereby she answers problems sent in by readers on writing and life, because the two are so often entwined, agony-aunt style (please do sign up!). Her next book, a novel, will be published by Sceptre later this year.

I've been telling everyone about the On Being podcast with Krista Tippett; I recently listened to the episode where she's in conversation with Ada Limón, the 24th poet laureate of the United States, and it was the most uplifting, inspiring podcast I've ever listened to. So much so that I listened to the same episode again (I've never done this before).

I stumbled upon it quite by accident; I like listening to podcasts while I'm driving, and I often just browse my podcast feed on my iPhone before I set off and pick something. I'd listened to the Poetry Unbound podcast before (which is, I believe, also produced by On Being Studios) and I guess for this reason, it suggested me this particular episode.

The episode is a recording of a live conversation/interview done in front of an audience, and it’s full of laughter and love and hope and language and just all these lovely things. It made me feel hopeful; there's such delightful clarity to both Krista Tippett and Ada Limón's voices, it's like drinking in a long tall glass of water on a hot day. They talk about upbringing and family and home, and what home feels like, and about growing older. And they do it all with such lightness and joy.

It left me feeling inspired and also, simply, happy.

I've just ordered the novel Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner and am saving it to read for when I've finished editing my own novel. Fleishman Is In Trouble first came out (I believe) in 2019, but I wasn't very interested in it then and kind of just glossed over the attention. For some reason, every now and again a book comes along that is so very popular that I simply assume (without any real justification for it) that it won’t really connect with me; that in some way if a book is super hyped I take it to mean it’s too ‘of the now’ and I feel too old for it. I know it’s not a very fair process of choosing books, but anyway, in brief, that’s why I didn’t read Fleishman In in Trouble four years ago when it first came out.

But I did spend the last eight days watching the show and I ordered the book immediately after the series finished.

I loved the mini-series so much. It's not often that you see the lives of lost forty-somethings played out on screen (I'm on the older side of being a millennial) and I found moments of it so gut-wrenching, because it felt so real.

It wasn’t really the Fleishman story line that got me, but that of the narrator's. I was stunned by the last episode; there's this one scene when the narrator sees her younger self in the park and she understands time really has passed. And then there’s another moment when she asks how was she supposed to know that the choices she made when she was younger would limit all her other choices to come? I just loved this character, played by Lizzy Caplan. She was/is brilliant.

I write about women's interior lives and family drama and what people might call domestic tensions, like the secrets we withhold from those closest to us (I examine this in my short story collection, Things We Do Not Tell The People We Love, and these themes again play out in my forthcoming novel). And a lot of these themes appeared in Fleishman and I'm really hoping to explore them again when reading it. Truth be told, I rarely read something after watching an adaptation, I guess a part of the magic is taken away - but I hope I'm not let down.

Okay, so this isn't related to storytelling or writing, but the last app I subscribed to and paid for was the Feel Better app, a wellbeing app by Ella Mills aka Deliciously Ella. Why did I subscribe and pay for it? Well, last year I was diagnosed with various food intolerances and as a result have had to go gluten-free and also vegan. It's a pretty tough combination to be, or at least it was at first - and I was vaguely familiar that the Deliciously Ella brand catered for that. The Feel Better app has tons of recipes that actually makes my eating/cooking situation less miserable than it sounds. And at the risk of sounding like a cliche, I do genuinely feel better, not specifically because I downloaded the app (obviously), but because of the changes to my diet; and the app just makes it easy. I'm really enjoying cooking this way, some of my favourite recipes off the app include an almond butter noodle stir-fry, a walnut and mushroom spaghetti and blueberry chia seed muffins.

I have three young sons, aged 9, nearly 8 and 5, and I'm invariably always telling them little stories about my day when they come home from school. Children aren't always that forthcoming after school, so when I share my minutiae, even if it's not that interesting or is just about something funny the cat did, then often what it means is that they'll end up telling me something too. It's just nice, is all, to catch up at the end of the day. For some reason we're not supposed to admit that we miss our kids when they're at school, but honestly there are parts of the day when I really do, and I like that my way of working allows for me to be at home when they come back. I love those after-school hugs. And so, yeah, I guess telling them stories of my day and asking them about their day is kind of special to me.

Something I've been trying to do more of is share with them the things that I find difficult, I guess so they know that it's okay to find things difficult too and that parents/adults really aren't infallible. It's nothing dramatic or major, you know, it'll be silly stories like, 'I sent the wrong person the wrong email!' or 'I got stuck in a parking space!' but I guess the moral of these little (mostly true) stories are that I hope that at some level it makes it easier for them to understand that it's okay to get things wrong, and it's not the end of the world, and that most of all, we get to try again.

Thank you for reading Attention Matters. This post is public so feel free to share it.

Thank you so much, Huma! I hope we’ve introduced your work to a lot of new readers today!

That’s it for this week. Don’t forget to share this post with friends if you like it, and ask them to subscribe if they haven’t. And share anything you’ve found, saved, subscribed or saved in the comments.

See you next week!