To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
The Last Illusion: A Novel Hardcover – May 13, 2014
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Lauded Iranian American critic and novelist Khakpour writes another gripping tale that mixes myth and history. Based on Persian folklore, The Last Illusion is the story of a feral albino boy raised in Iran until age 10 by a deranged mother who keeps him in a cage and treats him like a bird. The boy, Zal, is discovered by his grown sister and passed off to a famous American child analyst, who adopts him, takes him to New York City, and sets out to help him integrate into society. Zal takes on the streets of New York, with its myriad characters, the same way a bird might cock its head at the strangeness of human behavior, but as he grows, he longs to be normal and must fight against his instincts to be bird. Khakpour’s writing walks a line between mythical and realistic, somehow melding the two seamlessly and keeping reality in sharp focus; the reader aches for Zal, who fumbles through life as neither completely bird nor completely human. --Heather Paulson
“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, author of The Woman Upstairs
“The Last Illusion 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, author of Away
“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, author of Little Failure
“The Last Illusion is a book full of hard-fought wonders, harsh and yet full of grace, with a touch of myth, and an abundance of love. A haunting novel that lingers long after the last page.” ―Dinaw Mengestu, author of The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears
“Funny and haunting, bridges the distance between ancient myth and the modern world. As much a coming-of-age story as it is a clear-eyed account of our contemporary lives. This is a work of pure imagination.” ―Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, author of When Skateboards Will Be Free
“Khakpour's elegant, mysterious, hilarious novel contains the most intriguing and inventive collection of heartbreaking characters you'll ever meet: a mystic in search of a religion, a magician with only one trick, and of course, Zal, the feral boy who just might be a bird. Powerful, passionate, essential work!” ―Deb Olin Unferth, author of Revolution
“This novel confirms Khakpour as one of our best new satirists, partly because she is never as moving as when she is entirely sincere.” ―Alexander Chee, author of Edinburgh
“One of the books Flavorwire has been looking forward to all year, Khakpour's latest is a stunning, darkly humorous, and at more than a few points totally heartbreaking novel abut an Iranian boy who thinks he's a bird after years of torture. We invite you to read it--and help us figure out how one writer can take such a subject and spin it into something you just want to wrap yourself in. An absolute stunner.” ―Flavorwire
“An audaciously ambitious novel that teeters along a tightrope but never falls off.” ―Kirkus, starred review
“A boy raised among birds is rescued and brought to pre-September 11 New York in Porochista Khakpour's savagely funny, Persian folktale-inspired The Last Illusion (Bloomsbury), in which coming-of-age and first love are complicated by dreams of flight and chocolate–covered crickets.” ―Vogue
“Lauded American Iranian critic and novelist Khakpour writes another gripping tale that mixes myth and history . . . . Khakpour's writing walks a line between mythical and realistic, somehow melding the two seamlessly and keeping reality in sharp focus; the reader aches for Zal, who fumbles through life as neither completely bird nor completely human.” ―Booklist
“Blazingly original.” ―The Millions
“Khakpour's prose is fluid and visceral, while the narrative plays smoke and mirrors with reality and perspective . . . . This novel is a literary gem full of sadness, guts, and wonder. For any adult who enjoys good fiction.” ―Library Journal
“Ambitious, bursting with ideas, vivid characters and lush language . . . . Sad and funny in turn, real and poignant on every page . . . Khakpour's vision of a bustling, multicultural New York--stuffed with layers of idiosyncratic detail, fully alive and fully overwhelming--is literature of the first order . . . Her daring new book is a testament to the relentless search for self and connection to others, no matter how daunting the journey. A major new work of fiction.” ―Shelf Awareness, starred review
“Porochista Khakpour retells a tale of the imagination at its most sublime . . . Imagination fuels stories and stories fuel hope. If your imagination needs fuel, read this book.” ―The Rumpus
“The Last Illusion captures, in a way that few other 9/11 novels have, that contradictory sense Americans have of how easy and trivial life was before the attack . . . Khakpour is able to . . . offer us a more complex portrait of ourselves.” ―Los Angeles Times
“A darkly glittering story that draws you in from its very first pages and mesmerizes you until the last.” ―Bustle
“A storytelling masterpiece, strikingly original and ambitious in its modern retelling of an ancient myth.” ―Largehearted Boy
“Mesmerizizing.” ―Vanity Fair
“The most impressive feat in Porochista Khakpour's magnificent new novel, The Last Illusion, is that it manages to peel back the calcified layers of myth and memorialization, all that 9/11 has come to mean since, and to capture the dread that [people] felt that first morning . . . Captivating.” ―The Marginalia Review
“Khakpour's sophomore novel focuses on a boy who sort of believed he was a bird. We all construct different coping mechanisms for the terrible things in our lives, but in The Last Illusion, Khakpour has created one such mechanism that is both a little sad, but randomly funny, too. It also doesn't hurt that the writing is super-smooth, and above all, extremely consuming. If you're looking to be taken away, but with an anchor to the familiar, this is your summer novel.” ―Barnes & Noble Book Blog
“The Last Illusion is an epic amalgamation of humanity. Like the novel's characters, and like Khakpour herself, it is never one thing or the other. It is legend and reality, fiction and history, Middle Eastern and American, good and evil.” ―San Francisco Chronicle
“It's hard not to think of . . . One Hundred Years of Solitude when reading Porochista Khakpour's excellent new novel, The Last Illusion (Bloomsbury) . . . The Last Illusion has the same sense of regional character that Marquez created in his fictional Macondo . . . Like Márquez, Khakpour is a magical realist who believes that the closer to reality the magic is, the more fantastic is its effect.” ―Santa Fe New Mexican
“Khakpour has contributed essays and journalism to publications both ‘mainstream' and independent, but it's her dark, funny, piercing novels, Sons and Other Flammable Objects (2007) and this year's The Last Illusion, which draws on a mix of contemporary history, Iranian myth, and psychology, that make her work feel so new and important.” ―Dazed, "Top Ten American Writers You Need to Read This Year"
Top customer reviews
Though the novel centers on Zal, a young man who cannot entirely shake his bird-ness (after his mother threw him in a cage and made him live with her other birds for the first ten years of his life), and his quest to understand what it is to be human, all of Khakpours characters ache for something just beyond themselves. They wish to become someone or something else that would allow them to make sense in their worlds. From the possibly psychic Asiya, to the riotously funny illusionist Bran Silber, to Asiya’s morbidly obese sister Willa, these characters seek to create themselves, to self-mythologize, and yet these reinventions fail to take hold, leaving them constantly just out of place.
And when Khakpour dives into Zal’s bird-ness, the novel really takes off. She re-orients the reader’s experience to Zal’s, and his more avian tendencies begin to feel “normal,” while his attempts to become human, while often hilarious, feel like the true strangeness. It’s a remarkable sleight-of-hand, and a joy to read.
Ultimately, this novel is a deepy compassionate, slightly magical story of what it is to be human, and to what lengths we’ll go to create and preserve ourselves. Highly recommended.
The Last Illusion is a contemporary re-imagining of the Persian medieval epic The Shahnameh. The main character Zal is born fair-skinned and blond in Iran. His deranged mother calls him White Demon and confines him to a bird cage along with her other pet birds, feeding him insects and letting him sleep on straw. He communicates with the birds by squawking. He is taken out of his life as a bird by an older sibling. A white American psychologist who studies feral children and whose great love is a dead Persian poet adopts him and takes him to New York City.
Zal comes of age in pre-9/11 New York City, still longing for his life as a bird. He sneaks candied insects and still longs to fly. When he meets illusionist Bran Silber, he think he's found a kindred spirit who is equally interested in flying. He also develops a relationship with an anorexic eccentric photographer and falls in love with her gigantic sister Willa. Meanwhile, the illusionist is planning to make the World Trade Center disappear.
It is the New York of contrasts in 2000 that sets the scene for the secret dreams of Zal and his friends. He has become enmeshed with Asiya, an anorexic woman enamored of birds. But he loves her morbidly obese sister Willa who is all things comfort to him. And he is fascinated by a strange illusionist, pretty much a villain, who nonetheless would also like to fly. This job does a delicate job of pointing out the ways all of us may just miss human status. Imbued with a deepening sense of doom, the characters nonetheless strive for their moments in the sun.
I enjoyed the view from a different part of reality. The child raised by animals allows a glimpse into where we do in fact dwell in the world. There probably is not anything more magic than anyone reaching each other. This book gives one trip out of the cage.