Onion Tears (Penguin, 2011) is a novel by Shubnum Khan about three generations of Indian Muslim South African women. It is a tale of love, loss and life.
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 may bring this family together, if not, it will tear them part.
It was long listed for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize, shortlisted for the University of Johannesburg Debut Prize and the Penguin Prize for African Writing. It was also selected for Exclusive Book's Homebru List. It has been translated into Italian (Le Radici Altrove) and is available at bookstores in South Africa, India and via Amazon all over the world
You can order the novel:
In South Africa, Onion Tears in South Africa is currently out of print but if you're in South Africa you can still purchase a hardcopy directly from the author for R150 in Durban (or R200 with postage to anywhere in SA). Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your address. Many libraries have copies and you can search for second hand copies at bidorbuy.co.za or Amazon.com.
You can purchase an ebook/kindle copy on Amazon for R100 here
In Italy, you can order it in Italian (Le Radici Altrove) at most book stores or order it on Amazon here.
In Canada you can order if from any Chapters bookstore ($13).