Porochista Khakpour

Porochista Khakpour

Porochista Khakpour was born in Tehran in 1978 and raised in the Greater Los Angeles area. She has been awarded fellowships from the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars, Northwestern University, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Ucross Foundation, Djerassi, and Yaddo. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is most recently the recipient of a 2012 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Literature Fellowship in Creative Writing (Prose).

Her debut novel Sons and Other Flammable Objects (Grove/Atlantic, 9/07) – a New York Times “Editor’s Choice,” Chicago Tribune’s “Fall Best,” and 2007 California Book Award winner – is out in paperback. She has also penned the introduction to a new English edition of one of the greatest modern Iranian novels of all time, Sadegh Hedayat’s The Blind Owl (10/10). She was also invited to be the guest-editor and curator of Guernica’s first Iranian-American issue, which came out in November 2011. Her second novel The Last Illusion is forthcoming from Bloomsbury.

Her other writings (essays, features, reviews, cover stories, and columns) have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Village Voice, The Chicago Reader, The Paris Review Daily, Granta.com, Poets and Writers, The Rumpus, Paper, Flaunt, Nylon, Bidoun, Alef, Canteen, nerve.com, FiveChapters.com, and many others. As of 2008, she’s been a frequent contributor of personal essays to the New York Times.

We got the chance to ask Porochista all about prose, poetry, and her life as a writer. Here’s what she had to say:


1) Do you feel that your gender, culture or age have influenced your career as a writer? In what way(s)?

Not really. I don’t feel particularly female, Iranian, and 34 when I write. However if you’re talking “career”, then perhaps. It’s influenced what others want from me.

2) How do you gauge what details are vital, and which you can remove, when you’re writing short prose?

Short prose is not my first love—long prose is. I’ve always written long fiction and more recently short nonfiction. In my nonfiction, being a minimalist comes more naturally—I was a trained journalist first and so the whole culture of that sort of nonfiction (minimum words, deadlines, writing for a large audience, etc) is ingrained in me. In fiction, I am not the best editor of my own work, as I often prefer things to be raw, breathless, messy, weird.

3) Are there any writing practices, processes, or habits that you absolutely have to maintain?

No. Too many rules and I want out. I’ve always been a bit rebellious. I have to keep it low-pressure and sexy, like a good affair, not a marriage.

4) What book(s) are you reading now? Are there any poems or short prose pieces that you recommend to our readers?

I am currently rereading old true loves: Melville and Salter. I recommend James Wright and Robert Penn Warren to anyone interested in poetry.

5) Are you writing anything new that you’d like to share with our readers?

I have finished edits on my forthcoming second novel The Last Illusion (Bloomsbury, 2014) and now I’m working on a third novel. I am also writing a lot of new short stories, which is unusual for me.





  1. Weekly Internet Finds: Take 26 | Reinventing Erin - [...] former MFA mentor, Porochista Khakpour (who we interviewed for the first issue of Spry) wrote a great article about her…

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