Porochista Khakpour was born in Tehran in 1978 and raised in the Greater Los Angeles area (South Pasadena, to be exact). Her first language was Farsi, her second (and luckily mostly forgotten) tongue, Valley Girl. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and The Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars MA program. She has been awarded fellowships from Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo.
She began writing as an arts and entertainment journalist—her subjects have spanned from clubs (Paul Oakenfold!) to couture (Paul Poiret!); Maggie Gyllenhaal (Maggie’s first big feature!) to Fabio (Porochista’s first feature at 16!); New York City’s finest drinking establishments (Paper magazine bar columnist, 2000-2001, as well as New York magazine online bar critic) to rural Illinois’s most dangerous skydiving compound (2004 staff writer stint at The Chicago Reader). Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Daily Beast, The Village Voice, The Chicago Reader, Paper, Flaunt, Nylon, Bidoun, Alef, Canteen, nerve.com and FiveChapters.com, among others.
She currently spends a third of her time in New York City and two thirds three hours away in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania where she teaches Fiction at Bucknell University.
Question: What is the male reality in your novel?
Khakpour: I wanted to write about men in crisis. So Xerxes, the younger protagonist, is at quarter life. And his father is at mid life – almost exactly. And so I also wanted to put them in a time of crisis like the post-9/11 era and examine men under pressure, and look at their conflicts and put . . . you know and examine their conflicts in a larger sense; look at how much global turmoil and historical turmoil has contributed to their interpersonal conflict. It became a kind of thesis for the novel – that sometimes the conflicts of men even in one family weren’t really about their issues, but sometimes about what was going on in the news, or what was going on in history books. I take a lot of pains to examine some of the ancient kings in Persian history, and then merge that with some of the prime characters in sort of 9/11 the story.