“Punchy conversation, vivid detail, sharp humor . . . Khakpour brings her characters vividly to life; their flaws and feints at intimacy feel poignantly real, and their journeys generate real suspense. . . . Khakpour’s biting humor and acute cultural observations carry the book.”Judy Budnitz, The New York Times Book Review
Sons and Other Flammable Objects
978-0-8021-4386-0 • $14.00 • Paperback • Sep. 2008
With rolling storytelling cadences and wry wit that recall Zadie Smith’s White Teeth and Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters, Porochista Khakpour, a young writer who emigrated to California from Tehran at age three, has delivered an extraordinary debut that marks her as a major and outrageously gifted new voice. Sons and Other Flammable Objects is a unique and powerful first novel, at once a comedy and a tragedy, a family history and a modern coming-of-age story with a distinctly timeless resonance.
Growing up, Xerxes Adam is painfully aware that he is differentwith an understanding of his Iranian heritage that vacillates from typical teenage embarrassment to something so tragic it can barely be spoken. His father, Darius, dwells obsessively on his sense of exile, and fantasizes about a nonexistent daughter he can relate to better than his living son; Xerxes’s mother changes her name and tries to make friends; but neither of them offers their son anything he can actually use to make sense of the terrifying, violent last moments in a homeland he barely remembers. As he grows into manhood and moves to New York, his major goal in life is to completely separate from his parents, but when he meets a beautiful half-Iranian girl on the roof of his building after New York’s own terrifying and violent catastrophe strikes, it seems Iran will not let Xerxes go.
A wry and haunting first novel from a fresh Iranian-American writer, Sons and Other Flammable Objects is a sweeping, lyrical tale of suffering, redemption, and the role of memory and inheritance making peace with our worlds.