Sons and Other Flammable Objects

Porochista Khakpour, Author . Grove/Atlantic $24 (398p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1853-0

Khakpour builds her luminously intelligent debut around the travails of an Iranian-American family caught in the feverish and paranoid currents immediately after 9/11. Darius Adam and his wife, Laleh (who, much to Darius’s disgust, Americanizes her name to Lala), flee revolutionary Iran for the alien territory of Southern California, settling in an apartment complex with the allegorically enticing name of Eden Gardens. Son Xerxes grows up with psychological “dual citizenship”: regular American outside of Eden Gardens, but the son of bitter Darius and clueless Lala inside. Xerxes finds true paradise in watching Barbara Eden, the star of I Dream of Jeannie . For the brilliantly rendered Lala, America is not so bad—it’s a good place to ''lose your mind,” which is how Lala translates into English her forgetting her unhappy Tehran childhood. Against this background of a parody paradise, Khakpour plays out the events following 9/11, which will, grotesquely, unite the Adam family. By then Xerxes, 26, is an unemployed college grad in a New York airshaft-view apartment, as far from Eden Gardens as possible. Khakpour is an elegant writer, and she imparts a perfect sense of the ironies of being Persian in America, where the blurry collective image of the Middle East alternates between blonde genies in bottles and furrow-browed terrorists in cockpits. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 06/18/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 397 pages - 978-0-8021-4386-0
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-1-55584-859-0
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