In a rural Iranian village, Zal's demented mother, horrified by the pallor of his skin and hair, becomes convinced she has given birth to a 'White Demon'. She hides him in a birdcage and there he lives for the next decade. Unfamiliar with human society, Zal eats birdseed and insects, squats atop the newspaper he sleeps upon, and communicates only in the squawks and shrieks of the other pet birds around him. Freed from his cage and adopted by a behavioural analyst, Zal awakens in New York to the possibility of a future. An emotionally stunted adolescent, he strives to become human as he stumbles toward adulthood, but his persistent dreams in 'bird' and his secret penchant for candied insects make real conformity impossible. As New York survives one potential disaster, Y2K, and begins hurtling toward another, 9/11, Zal finds himself in a cast of fellow outsiders. A friendship with a famous illusionist who claims - to the Bird Boy's delight - that he can fly, and a romantic relationship with a disturbed artist who believes she is clairvoyant, send Zal's life spiralling into chaos. Like the rest of New York, he is on a collision course with devastation.
From the critically acclaimed author of Sons and Other Flammable Objects comes a bold, fabulist novel about a feral boy coming of age in New York, based on a legend from the medieval Persian epic The Shahnameh, the Book of Kings
Utterly original and compelling, Porochista Khakpour's The Last Illusion weaves Iranian myth with very contemporary American neurosis to create a bittersweet poetry all its own. This ambitious, exciting literary adventure is at once grotesque, amusing, deeply sad - and wonderful, too Claire Messud Deftly, unexpectedly, blends Persian myth with modern life, and with the perils and pleasures of magic. In a gripping, sinuous, sometimes explosive voice, Porochista Khakpour tell us a story like no other, with a protagonist like no other - and there is not a reader who will not remember him always Amy Bloom Magical and hysterical, each sentence more beautiful than the next, The Last Illusion proves Khakpour a novelist-dazzler on the magnitude of an Aimee Bender or a Jonathan Lethem. The English language has a new master tickler and it is laughing out loud Gary Shteyngart Porochista Khakpour's mesmerizing The Last Illusion recasts a medieval Persian legend, placing it in the era of 9/11 Vanity Fair
Porochista Khakpour's debut novel, Sons and Other Flammable Objects, was named a New York Times Editor's Choice, one of the Chicago Tribune's Fall's Best and the 2007 California Book Award winner in the First Fiction category. Her honours include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars, Northwestern University, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, Ucross, and Yaddo. Her non-fiction has appeared in, or is forthcoming in, Harper's, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Spin, Slate and Salon, among many others. Khakpour currently teaches at Columbia University's MFA programme, Eugene Lang College and Wesleyan University. She lives in New York City. @PKhakpour www.porochistakhakpour.com