Author Shubnum Khan, who has created quite a stir with her debut book, Onion Tears, was in town recently to share her experiences. The 28-year-old spoke to us about writing a book from a South African Indian Muslim woman’s perspective, her stay in the Capital and the feminist movement in the city.
Tell us about your writing experience.
When I started writing the book, I knew that I wanted to have a strong female character. I have taken references from my aunt’s life. The story revolves around three generations of a South Africa-based Indian origin family. The older generation is quite attached to its roots, misses the homeland, and loves cooking (which inspires that title). The next generation is facing an identity crisis. It is nice when you are discussing three generations of a type of a people in a book. It’s about their share of love and losses. I like writing about love. It’s the most important thing. I knew my story will have something to do with it, but not like the clichéd love stories where you have a happy ending. Life is not like that.
How has your stay in Delhi been?
It is a very cosmopolitan city. There is so much of contrast visible here. You’ve got the rich and the poor, the modern and the traditional right next to each other. Also, there is a lot of tension — people hooting even when it is not required, lot of energy around; I am trying to understand that.
What’s your view about women in the Capital?
I went to Jawaharlal Nehru University and was surprised to see the pro-active women’s movement there. I’m impressed to see the aggression for standing up for your rights, but at the same time, I am slightly worried about the male aggression that also exists in the city.
Do you think Delhi can serve as a character in one of your novels?
I haven’t thought about it, but that will be quite interesting. It’s a city where anything can happen, which is what a novel needs.