Don’t cut your fingernails at night.
Question: What kinds of curses do you remember from your childhood?
Khakpour: There are small things I can think of straight off the bat. But for instance I remember growing up and my mother always saying, “Never cut your fingernails after dark.” And to this day I probably have never cut my fingernails after dark. And I thought about it and I researched this a little bit. It doesn’t appear in my novel, but I was interested in why on earth do a lot of Iranians think that you can’t cut your fingernails after dark. And the origin, I believe, of this superstition is it was in the Arab pre-electricity. People would actually get hurt, you know, utilizing scissors and cutting their fingernails, or toe nails, or whatever in the dark. Or with kerosene lamps or whatever they used. I don’t know. But it seemed to me that that was the reason. But I love that. I love that sort of folklore. But there’s tons of stuff like that. I grew up as a child completely neurotic because of all these things my parents would tell me – these ancient cultural voodoo that was always sort of present in our household. And it made me very, very stressed out as a child. How do you merge that with sort of modern living and trying to assimilate to this new world that you’re in? It was very difficult for me. You know I was very cognizant of learning English in the U.S. And I was . . . It was very harrowing for me because I was always trying to fit in and do it fast before anyone could notice a difference. But you know the minute some kids would meet my parents . . . You know the minute they entered the picture it seemed like they would just unravel my whole . . . my whole guise. So I was always a little bit at odds with them. I think that is definitely explored ad nauseum in the book.