The Last Illusion (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

This novel based on the Persian epic The Shahnameh is captivating and beautifully written. Zal is unloved by his mother, raised as another pet bird in a cage until he is rescued and eventually adopted by a therapist living in New York. His struggle to adapt and create his own humanity is heart-wrenching and at times hilarious. Khakpour is working magic here. --Leigh

— From Staff Picks - Leigh


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."

In an Iranian village, Zal's demented mother, horrified by the pallor of his skin and hair, is convinced she has given birth to a "white demon." She hides him in a birdcage for the next decade. Rescued by a behavioral analyst, Zal awakens in New York to the possibility of a future. A stunted and unfit adolescent, he strives to become human as he stumbles toward adulthood. 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 an affair with a disturbed artist who believes she is clairvoyant send Zal's life spiraling into chaos. Like the rest of New York, he is on a collision course with devastation.

In tones haunting yet humorous and unflinching yet reverential, "The Last Illusion" explores the powers of storytelling while investigating magical thinking. Its lyricism, inventiveness, and examination of otherness can appeal to readers of Salman Rushdie and Helen Oyeyemi. A celebrated chronicler of the 9/11-era, Khakpour reimagines New York's most harrowing catastrophe with a dazzling homage to her beloved city.

About the Author

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, Ford University and Wesleyan University. She lives in New York City.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781620403068
ISBN-10: 1620403064
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: March 3rd, 2015
Pages: 336
Language: English