For readers of Brother by David Chariandy and Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez, Adnan Khan's blistering debut novel investigates themes of race, class, masculinity, and contemporary relationships.
Omar Ali is a ticking time bomb. A phone call from his ex-girlfriend Anna's father plunges him into darkness when he learns that she's committed suicide. Clueless and hurting, Omar turns to violence and petty crime to cope. His nefarious activities catch the attention of the RCMP, who pressure him into becoming an informant at a mosque they suspect harbours a terrorist cell. Unravelling from insomnia, sorrow, and rage, Omar grasps at his last shred of hope, embarking on a quest to find the note he's convinced Anna left for him.
There Has to Be a Knife examines expectations—both intimate and political—on brown men, exploring ideas of cultural identity and the tropes we use to represent them.
Adnan Khan, author
Adnan Khan has written for VICE, the Globe and Mail, and Hazlitt. He has been nominated for a National Magazine Award and in 2016 was awarded the RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award. There Has to Be a Knife is his first novel. He lives in Toronto.
This is a book that’s alive, moving through the streets of Toronto, wiping sweat off of its electric body that hopes for resolution, that doesn’t sleep, that presses against women’s bodies, that longs for some kind of peace that never comes. Adnan Khan’s poetic, sexy, and raw "There Has To Be A Knife" showcases one of the most intense and original new works on the CanLit scene. I read it over two sleepless nights, which is how it demands to be read—without stopping, your body too buzzing from exhaustion, your mind buzzing from the excitement of discovering a new, brilliant, and bold literary voice. - Jowita Bydlowska, author of Drunk Mom and Guy
- No one sleeps in Adnan Khan’s propulsive novel of sex, Reddit, and precarity that brilliantly blends a critique of Canadian 'tolerance' with a raunchy paean to first love. - Tamara Faith Berger, author of Queen Solomon, Lie With Me, and others
Like a sort of Notes from Underground for the hip-hop generation, Adnan Khan's darkly funny, compulsively readable and deceptively moving first novel stares headlong into the struggles of its young characters and the harm they cause to others and themselves. In raw, street-wise vernacular There Has to be a Knife offers an acute study of masculinity, how unexpressed grief snarls through anomie into resentment and rage, and the social scripts that exist for all of us—how we play our parts, and how we might also write our way into new stories. - Pasha Malla, author of Fugue States, The Withdrawal Method and others
Adnan Khan is a writer whose words and story, "There Has to be a Knife," carry heft. His voice is the one that many of us have been waiting for; we have suspected that such talent exists in this country—new, fresh and weighty. "There Has to be a Knife" is a must read. - Lee Maracle, author of Ravensong, My Conversations with Canadians, and others
- “There Has to Be a Knife" is an entertaining page-turner, at once a thriller and an intersectional, transgressive work of fiction that makes no comprises in its alternating nihilism and tenderness. - Quill and Quire
- “A searing meditation on isolation and grief in the modern world. There Has To Be A Knife is a striking debut.” - Iain Reid, author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Foe, and others
- “A raw, gritty, shiver-inducing—but very readable—account of a young man in a spiral of grief and self-destruction.” - Kirkus Reviews
Rights Holder: Stephanie Sinclair (Transatlantic Agency)
rights available: World, excl. World English (Arsenal Pulp Press)
age range: Adult
publication date: 09/10/2019
Original language of pub: English
Materials Available: finished book