cover image Tehrangeles


Porochista Khakpour. Pantheon, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-1-5247-4790-9

Khakpour’s wry latest (following the essay collection Brown Album) introduces the Milanis, a wealthy Persian family living in Los Angeles. The Milanis have courted fame ever since patriarch Al struck frozen food gold in the 1980s with Pizzabomme (“like Cinnabon but Pizza”), which led to a viral TV commercial. Their celebrity is taken to new heights when 18-year-old Roxanna, the self-assured second of four daughters, secures a deal for a reality show in early 2020. The news invites mixed reactions in the family—Al is thrilled for the publicity, but his depressive wife, Homa, is ambivalent. Violet, the oldest daughter and a model, goes along with the show, while shrewd third daughter Mina worries her newfound queerness may be exposed. Haylee, the youngest at “fourteen going on twenty-four,” sees the show as her big break. Escalating events—first the fear of war with Iran after the U.S. assassinates an Iranian general and then the Covid-19 pandemic­­—threaten to torpedo the show, however. During lockdown, the Milanis cope with their stress by logging on to social media, using drugs, or pretending everything is fine, and stick largely to their own corners of the mansion. Khakpour’s commitment to giving equal weight to each character means that the narrative structure occasionally feels diffuse. For the most part, though, she provides a vibrant sense of place and an indelible family portrait. This has plenty of heart. Agent: Susan Golomb, Writers House. (June)