About Adnan Khan

Adnan is a novelist, essayist, and screenwriter. He has been nominated for a National Magazine Award and was awarded the 2016 RBC Taylor Emerging Writer award. His debut novel, There Has To Be A Knife, was named a best Canadian novel of 2019 by the CBC, and called “a raw, gritty, shiver-inducing—but very readable—account of a young man in a spiral of grief and self-destruction,” by Kirkus Review. His film work includes co-writing the screenplay Shook, for Scarborough Pictures, and his non-fiction has been published in The Globe and Mail, Maisonneuve, among others. Alongside this, he is regularly invited to speak on panels, has taught non-fiction at the University of Guelph, and is the fiction editor at Puritan magazine. His writing is represented by the Transatlantic Agency.  

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From the publisher:

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.


“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

“Adnan Khan is a writer whose words and story 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

“A searing meditation on isolation and grief in the modern world. There Has to Be A Knife is a striking debut.”

Iain Reid, author