Porochista Khakpour’s debut, Sons and Other Flammable Objects, was named a New York Times Editor’s Choice, one of the Chicago Tribune’s Fall’s Best, and the 2007 California Book Award winner in the first fiction category. She received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and her nonfiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Harper’s, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, among many others. She teaches at Columbia’s M.F.A. program, Fordham, and Wesleyan. She lives in New York City.
From the critically acclaimed author of Sons and Other Flammable Objects comes a bold fabulist novel about a feral boy coming of age in New York, based on a legend from the medieval Persian epic the Shahnameh, the Book of Kings.
In an Iranian village, Zal’s demented mother, horrified by the pallor of his skin and hair, is convinced she has given birth to a “white demon.” She hides him in a birdcage for the next decade. Rescued by a behavioral analyst, Zal awakens in New York to the possibility of a future. A stunted and unfit adolescent, he strives to become human as he stumbles toward adulthood. As New York survives one potential disaster, Y2K, and begins hurtling toward another, 9/11, Zal finds himself in a cast of fellow outsiders. A friendship with a famous illusionist who claims—to the Bird Boy’s delight— that he can fly and an affair with a disturbed artist who believes she is clairvoyant send Zal’s life spiraling into chaos. Like the rest of New York, he is on a collision course with devastation.
In tones haunting yet humorous and unflinching yet reverential, The Last Illusion explores the powers of storytelling while investigating magical thinking. Its lyricism, inventiveness, and examination of otherness can appeal to readers of Salman Rushdie and Helen Oyeyemi. A celebrated chronicler of the 9/11-era, Khakpour reimagines New York’s most harrowing catastrophe with a dazzling homage to her beloved city.
One of The Millions’ "Most Anticipated Books of 2014"
One of Flavorwire’s “Most Anticipated Books of 2014”
One of Flavorwire’s “May 2014 Must-Read Books”
One of “2014’s 10 Best Works of Fiction So Far” —Flavorwire, on June 24, 2014
One of Flavorwire’s “50 Excellent Fabulist Books Everyone Should Read”
One of Huffington Post’s "30 Books You NEED to Read in 2014"
One of Dazed’s “Top 10 American Writers You Need to Read This Year”
“Utterly original and compelling, Porochista Khakpour's The Last Illusion weaves Iranian myth with very contemporary American neurosis to create a bittersweet poetry all its own. This ambitious, exciting literary adventure is at once grotesque, amusing, deeply sad—and wonderful, too.” —Claire Messud, author of The Woman Upstairs
“The Last Illusion deftly, unexpectedly, blends Persian myth with modern life, and with the perils and pleasures of magic. In a gripping, sinuous, sometimes explosive voice, Porochista Khakpour tell us a story like no other, with a protagonist like no other—and there is not a reader who will not remember him always.” —Amy Bloom, author of Away
“Magical and hysterical, each sentence more beautiful than the next, The Last Illusion proves Khakpour a novelist-dazzler on the magnitude of an Aimee Bender or a Jonathan Lethem. The English language has a new master tickler and it is laughing out loud.” —Gary Shteyngart, author of Little Failure
“The Last Illusion is a book fu
“Utterly original and compelling, The Last Illusion weaves Iranian myth with contemporary American neurosis to create a bittersweet poetry all its own.” —Claire Messud