ISLAMABAD: The launch of Khadija Khan’s debut novel, The Mind of Q, was held at Kuch Khaas on Saturday evening.
Kishwar Naheed, prominent Urdu poet and a guest speaker at the launch, introduced the book. She said Khan had started a new trend, which was different from what other young Pakistan writers were doing. While Fatima Bhutto and Kamila Shamsi were more focused on politics and Karachi, respectively, Khan’s book delves into psychopathology and development of characters, Naheed added.
Khadija Khan, a resident of Islamabad and graduate of the University of London, started writing the book at the age of 19 and finished it by the time she was 21.
However, it took another two years before the book was published. Her young age made it particularly hard for her to find a willing publisher. She wanted a national publisher and approached Alhamra Publishing, based in Islamabad and Bertem, Belgium. They initially showed interest in the book, before backing out after they found out her age. “Their attitude changed completely and they said they cannot publish my book,” Khan said.
“This is why I now have an international publisher, because Americans are more open-minded about these things,” she explained. Her book is being published by the North Carolina-based Lulu Publishers.
The Mind of Q is a psychological thriller centred on Questa, an extremist, who one day abandons her surroundings and seeks refuge in the wilderness of an island. However, just when the beauty of the island begins to console her unsettled state of mind, trouble comes her way. She encounters a man who is mentally unstable, and finds herself strangely drawn to him. She decides to help him overcome his illness, unaware that it is he who will end up teaching her the lesson of a lifetime.
Khan said her inspiration behind the novel stems from the things she felt she wanted to “get rid of”. She added,”You will see me in the characters Questa and Abraham.”
Shama Nawaz Khan, an English literature professor, said: “[The novel] is reflective of the protagonist’s life, which is cemented as the novel progresses, but shattered into a million pieces when the mask of illusion lifts.”
Khadija Khan still cannot believe that her book has been launched. “Twelve days ago, I did not even have a venue for the launch,” she said, adding: “Kuch Khaas helped me a lot.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2010.
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