Porochista Khakpour and Flammable Fiction

Porochista Khakpour at the Brooklyn Book Fair. The late David Foster Wallace was her hero.

By Bill Marx

The latest World Books podcast features my conversation at the Brooklyn Book Fair with Iranian-American author Porochista Khakpour, whose first novel, “Sons and Other Flammable Objects,” earned accolades from “The New Yorker” as well as the “New York Times.”

A seriocomic treatment of the trials and tribulations of an Iranian-American family before and after 9/11, the book, out in paperback, is filled with wild riffs on Middle Eastern history, father/son conflict, and that old stand-by, the immigrant experience.

The book’s stylistic pizazz and dark comedy left some critics comparing her to the “young Philip Roth,” though she told me that her biggest influence was the late David Foster Wallace. She says Wallace was “her hero, my greatest influence as a writer. I have always said that I was in love with his prose …” The chat ranges from Khakpour desire to escape from the formula of the “immigrant novel” to her struggles with completing her next book. Khakpour also reads a short selection from “Sons and Other Flammable Objects.”

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