What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Question: What inspired "Sons and Other Flammable Objects"?

Khakpour:    My novel was mostly inspired by my own background as a new Iranian-American growing up in sort of unique circumstances in a suburb of Los Angeles.  And then 9/11 was a major kick in the ass for me.  So that in a way . . . maybe it was the prime inspiration.  But I also often joke that poverty and desperation were also big inspirations in writing my novel.  I was given a fellowship after getting my Masters degree at Johns Hopkins, and I knew that I’ve always been struggling to survive.  And I had a seven month, eight month period to write a long work.  We’re sort of encouraged to do that – not required, but you know sort of encouraged.  And I thought, “Wow.  I might never again in my life be paid to write like this.”  And I was working with a wonderful writer, Alice McDermott, at Hopkins, and I know she always sensed that I was a novelist.  And so I thought, “Let me just try it because I don’t have any other options.”  What am I gonna do?  Go back to New York?  Be a freelance journalist again?  Barely scrape by?  Am I gonna move to California with my parents, which I had never really done after college?  What . . . what can I do?  And what do I have the steam to write about, you know?   And so Alice McDermott used to tell me, “Write what you know,” and I always thought that was so gauche, and outdated, you know and pedestrian.  And I tried it, and I assumed the manuscript would be tossed, and that my actual published novel would come sometime later.  But it just so happened that I became interested in it, and I became more interested in my experience of 9/11, and my experience growing up as a wrote the novel.  So it was a strange chicken and egg phenomenon with the inception of the novel, I think, in my case.

 

What inspired your novel?

Newsletter: Share: