Friday, June 15, 2012

Author's Pie: Shubnum Khan

Welcome to another crusty pie on It's a Book Thing!

Shubnum Khan, Ladies and Gents, is joining us today.  So pull up a chair and sip on your tea because this recently UJ literary prize shortlistee, author, freelance journalist, cartoonist and media lecturer is sure to have you drooling over more than just her food filled writing!

A big thank you to Shubnum for taking part in today's Author's Pie

1. Onion Tears revolves heavily around family and food, what is your favourite food and why?

I want to say something exotic and Indian like butter chicken with hot roti but I'm a product of a Western system so it's more like chicken burger and chips. Oh yes, and I love boiled monkey nuts. I have a hunch that when I'm pregnant (yes, after I get married, mother) I shall be craving big pots of boiled monkey nuts. (It sounds rude, but that's just because we live in a dirty society).

2. What inspired you to write Onion Tears?

The bigger question is what inspired me to write at all. I think there suddenly comes a point in your life, or perhaps your writing when you realise that you can also try and create some of those fantastic tales you've been reading about. You suddenly have the power to create a whole world in your head with all its own rules and systems. That amazes me all the time. That idea, that kind of freedom, that liberation, is inspiring in itself. The kind of beauty in that shocks me.

3. What is your favourite thing to do when reading/buying books/or writing?

One my absolute favourite things in the world is to have a scrumptious sandwich (or a bowl of boiled nuts!) while lying on a couch and reading a good book. It's up there with long hot showers, late mornings, Teju Cole tweets and Archie comics.

4. Which of your characters would you be best friends with?

You would think it would be the melancholic and beautiful Summaya but I would rather get to know Hoosen better. I love the way little boys are so innocent and surprisingly caring and tender. That point before they understand they have a place in the world and society's perceptions of what that place should be. I think males are truest to themselves when they are boys. Some men retain that and you see it in small fragile moments when they are vulnerable. It is quite beautiful.

5. Tell us about the recent shortlisting of Onion Tears on the UJ Lit prize? Your thoughts?

Well, I'm excited about the shortlisting - although a wise woman (ahem, with the initials KA) once told me that shortlists are not everything and don't always mean anything about one's writings. So while I am am certainly thrilled about the recognition I am also just trying to navigate that strange space between understanding that my writing is for myself and for my readers and not for winning competitions or getting people to like me. It's a funny world this literary world - it is easy to get swept up in wanting to please people and win prizes and I fear the moments when I will disappoint myself by not being true.

Shubnum's Book

Trade Paperback cover
Love, loss and life are the themes that weave through this tale of three generations of Muslim women living in suburban South Africa. Khadeejah Bibi Ballim is a hard-working and stubborn first generation Indian who longs for her beloved homeland and often questions what she is doing on the tip of Africa. At thirty-seven, her daughter Summaya is struggling to reconcile her South African and Indian identities, while Summaya's own daughter, eleven-year old Aneesa, is a girl who has some difficult questions of her own. Is her mother lying to her about her father's death? Why won't she tell her what really happened? Gradually, the past merges with the present as the novel meanders through their lives, uncovering the secrets people keep, the words they swallow and the emotions they elect to mute. For this family, faintly detectable through the sharp spicy aromas that find their way out of Khadeejah's kitchen, the scent of tragedy is always threatening. Eventually it will bring this family together. If not, it will tear them apart.

Shubnum is published by Penguin Books South Africa and Onion Tears is available from your nearest Exclusive Books


Julia said...

onion tears - 5 stars from me!! what an excellent book!! and now i've found your blog as well - great!! ;)

It's a Book Thing said...

Hello Julia,
Really glad you loved 'Onion Tears', I did to. Was so vibrant and fragrant - I could smell the smells off the page! Thank you for dropping by the blog, I hope you keep coming back. Also, feel free to let me know what you want to see reviewed.


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