Two ways of seeing
Shubnum Khan’s first novel, Onion Tears, was published to widespread praise in 2011 and resulted in several fellowships around the world (she also has an MA in English and has worked as an academic). The follow-up has been harder, she says, but writing this sparkling memoir has put her in a space where she finally feels ready to finish her second novel. She is also an artist of some repute, mostly for book covers and private commissions.
Drawing and writing inhabit separate hemispheres of the brain, she says. “If I’m working on a drawing project I can’t write and when I’m working on a writing project I can’t draw. The drawing comes easier, just because it’s more instinctual. The writing is more difficult because you have to structure it — it requires much more control than drawing for me. I find drawing more cathartic but writing is more intricate, you’re building things, so I do also get a sense of freedom from writing — if it feels real and honest then I get more satisfaction out of writing than drawing.”