From Publishers Weekly
Khakpour builds her luminously intelligent debut around the travails of an Iranian-American family caught in the feverish and paranoid currents immediately after 9/11. Darius Adam and his wife, Laleh (who, much to Darius's disgust, Americanizes her name to Lala), flee revolutionary Iran for the alien territory of Southern California, settling in an apartment complex with the allegorically enticing name of Eden Gardens. Son Xerxes grows up with psychological dual citizenship: regular American outside of Eden Gardens, but the son of bitter Darius and clueless Lala inside. Xerxes finds true paradise in watching Barbara Eden, the star of I Dream of Jeannie
. For the brilliantly rendered Lala, America is not so bad—it's a good place to ''lose your mind, which is how Lala translates into English her forgetting her unhappy Tehran childhood. Against this background of a parody paradise, Khakpour plays out the events following 9/11, which will, grotesquely, unite the Adam family. By then Xerxes, 26, is an unemployed college grad in a New York airshaft-view apartment, as far from Eden Gardens as possible. Khakpour is an elegant writer, and she imparts a perfect sense of the ironies of being Persian in America, where the blurry collective image of the Middle East alternates between blonde genies in bottles and furrow-browed terrorists in cockpits. (Sept.)
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This début novel centers on an energetically discordant Iranian family living in the United States. As father, mother, and son fight to fit in while holding on to their roots, Khakpour explores ethnicity, nationalism, and post-9/11 fearwell-worn themes that are far less compelling than the exuberant originality of her style. The characters burst from the page in fiery exchanges, while their chaotic inner lives are conveyed with witty precision; a simple parting comment is accompanied by "a definite wink, a wink or maybe a squint, but a smile, possibly a grimace, more than a smile." Khakpours comic sense of familial tensionsparticularly father-son enmityis infectious, but she does not quite succeed in developing this into a convincing story. On the other hand, this thinness of motivation is in key with the fathers unwillingness to probe complicated sentiment, as he seeks refuge instead in his favorite command: "ENOUGH."
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