Porochista Khakpour

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Porochista Khakpour
Born Porochista Khakpour
(1978-01-17) January 17, 1978 (age 36)
Tehran, Iran
Occupation Novelist, Essayist
Genres Literary fiction


Porochista Khakpour (born 1978) is an Iranian American novelist, essayist and writer.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Tehran, Iran, Khakpour was raised in South Pasadena, California and the Los Angeles area, graduating from South Pasadena High School. Khakpour attended Sarah Lawrence College in New York for her BA, majoring in Creative Writing and Literature. She received her MA from Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. After receiving her MA, she was a Lecturer and an Eliot Coleman fellow at Johns Hopkins University.

Career and Writing[edit]

Khakpour was an arts and entertainment journalist early in her career. Her writing (which includes reviews, features, cover stories, essays, and columns) has appeared or will be forthcoming in The New York Times, Harper's Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, GQ, The Daily Beast, The Chicago Reader, The Village Voice, Paper, Nylon, Flaunt, URB, Spin, Slate, Salon, Poets and Writers, The Rumpus, Departures, The Paris Review Daily, Bidoun, Alef, Canteen, Al Jazeera America, FiveChapters.com, nerve.com and Granta.com.[1][2] She has also been a frequent contributor of personal essays to The New York Times since 2008.

She has also written the introduction to a new English edition of Sadegh Hedayat's The Blind Owl, considered to be one of the greatest modern Iranian novels of all time.[3] Khakpour was also invited to be the Curator and Guest Editor of Guernica Magazine's first Iranian-American issue, which was released in November 2011.[4]


Her first novel, Sons and Other Flammable Objects (Grove/Atlantic) was published in September 2007. The lyrical dark comedy, centered on the aftermath of 9/11 and Iranian fathers and sons in Los Angeles and New York, was a New York Times Editor's Choice and was included on the Chicago Tribune's 2007 "Fall's Best" list. It won the 77th annual California Book Award prize in First Fiction. She has been longlisted for the 2008 Dylan Thomas Prize and shortlisted for the Saroyan Prize. The novel also received acclaim from The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and others.

Khakpour's second novel, The Last Illusion (Bloomsbury USA), was released on May 13, 2014. The synopsis of the book on Goodreads is as follows:

In a tiny village in rural Iran, Zal’s demented mother—horrified by his pale skin and hair, the opposite of her own—becomes convinced her baby is evil. She puts him in a wire birdcage on her veranda with the rest of her caged flock, and there he stays for the next ten years: eating birdseed and insects, defecating on the newspaper he squats upon, squawking and shrieking like the other birds.

He is rescued from that hell and adopted by a behavioral analyst who brings him to New York and sets out to help him find happiness. Zal is emotionally stunted, asexual, physically unfit, and trying desperately to be human as he stumbles through adolescence. His fervent desire to be normal grows as he ages, but the fact that he still dreams in “bird” and his secret penchant for yogurt-covered beetles make fitting in a challenge. He forges a friendship with a famous illusionist who claims he can fly—another of Zal’s bird-like obsessions—and embarks on a romantic relationship as well. His girlfriend, Asiya, crumbling under the weight of her supposed clairvoyance, sends Zal’s life spiraling out of control. Like the rest of New York, he is on a collision course with tragedy.

The Last Illusion is a wild, operatic, and startling homage to New York and its most harrowing catastrophe. It is tragic but laugh-out-loud funny, irreverent yet respectful, hugely imaginative yet universal,[5]

Fellowships and Accolades[edit]

Khakpour is a recipient of the 2012 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Literature Fellowship in Creative Writing (Prose).[6] Khakpour has also received fellowships from the Sewanee Writers' Conference, Northwestern University, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Ucross Foundation, Yaddo and Djerassi.[7] Her work has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.[8]

Khakpour's first novel, Sons and Other Flammable Objects (Grove/Atlantic 2007) also won the 77th annual California Book Award "First Fiction" prize. The novel was also a New York Times Editor's Choice and included on the Chicago Tribune's 2007 "Fall's Best" list. The novel was also shortlisted for the Saroyan Prize and longlisted for the 2008 Dylan Thomas Prize.


Khakpour currently teaches at Columbia University in New York as an Adjunct Faculty Member in the MFA program, and at Fordham University as an Adjunct Faculty member.

Khakpour has also taught at Hofstra University as an Adjunct Professor and at the College of Santa Fe (now the Santa Fe University of Art and Design) as an Assistant Professor. She was also a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bucknell University, and the Picador Guest Professor of Literature at the University of Leipzig in Leipzig, Germany. She has also been a Visiting Writer at Wesleyan University.

Khakpour also delivered the keynote speech at the University of Cincinnati’s Rope Lecture Series and has also given speeches for the PEN/Faulkner Foundation Reading Series. Khakpour has been a judge for, or served on the judging panels or committees for the Berlin Prize, PEN International, Asian American Writers' Workshop writing contests (including the Hyphen Magazine Short Story Contest), Canteen Magazine writing contests, the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, and the Santa Fe Reporter’s 2010 annual writing contest.[9]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Goodreads, Porochista khakpour, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/389683.Porochista_Khakpour
  2. ^ Porochista Khakpour, Biography, http://porochistakhakpour.com/biography/
  3. ^ Goodreads, The Blind Owl, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8091326-the-blind-owl
  4. ^ Porochista Khakpour, Biography, http://porochistakhakpour.com/biography/
  5. ^ Goodreads, The Last Illusion by Porochista Khakpour, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18594515-the-last-illusion
  6. ^ Porochista Khakpour, Biography, http://porochistakhakpour.com/biography/
  7. ^ Id,
  8. ^ Porochista Khakpour, Los Angeles Review of Books, https://lareviewofbooks.org/author/porochista-khakpour
  9. ^ Porochista Khakpour, Biograppy, http://porochistakhakpour.com/biography/