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 several Pushcart Prizes. 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, 2007) was a New York Times “Editor’s Choice,” Chicago Tribune “Fall’s Best,” and 2007 California Book Award winner. It also made the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing shortlist, the Dylan Thomas Prize long list, the Believer Book Award longlist, and many others.
Her second novel, The Last Illusion (Bloomsbury, 2014) was a Kirkus Best Book of 2014, a Buzzfeed Best Fiction Book of 2014, an NPR Best Book of 2014, one of Buzzfeed’s 28 Best Books By Women in 2014, an Electric Literature Best Book of 2014, a Volume1 Brooklyn Favorite Book of 2014, a PopMatters Best Book of 2014, one of Refinery29’s 2015 Books to Read in 2015, and one of Largehearted Boy’s 11 Favorite Novels of 2014. It was also one of Flavorwire’s 15 “Most Anticipated Books of 2014”, io9.com’s “Mind-Blowing Science Fiction and Fantasy Books to Watch Out For in 2015”, The Millions “Most Anticipated” in their “The Great 2014 Book Preview”, Flavorwire’s “50 Excellent Fabulist Novels Everyone Should Read,”, and the Huffington Post’s “30 Books You NEED to Read in 2014.”
In 2014, Khakpour was one of Dazed’s “Top 10 American Writers You Need to Read This Year,” one of Buzzfeed’s 32 Essential Asian-American Writers You Need to Be Reading, a Buzzfeed Community/OpenRoadMedia “10 Amazing Female Novelists Under 50,” and one of Entropy’s “Literary Advocates” in 2014 and 2016.
She was also the guest-editor and curator of Guernica‘s first Iranian-American issue, which came out in November 2011.
She 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 (Grove, 2010) as well as the introduction for Frontier, a novel by Chinese avant-garde writer Can Xue (Open Letter, 2017).
Her other writing (essays, features, reviews, cover stories, and columns) have appeared in or are forthcoming in Harper’s, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast, The Village Voice, The Chicago Reader, Bookforum, Al Jazeera America, Vice, GQ, The Paris Review Daily, Elle, Spin, Slate, Salon, Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, Guernica, Departures, Paper, Flaunt, Nylon, Bidoun, Alef, Canteen, nerve.com, FiveChapters.com, Granta.com, Newyorker.com, and many other magazines and newspapers around the world.
She regularly gives talks, lectures, and readings at festivals, universities, conventions, and conferences all over the country, from a keynote speech at the University of Cincinnati’s Rope Lecture Series to the PEN/Faulkner Reading Series (with Achy Obejas and Danzy Senna) to the Lannan Reading Series (in conversation with Karen Russell).
She has been a presenter at various book festivals all over the country, such as the Brooklyn Book Festival, the Los Angeles Times Book Festival, the Texas Book Festival, and PEN World Voices. She has also presented at international book festivals such as the Perth and Adelaide Book Festivals in Australia (2015) and the Ubud Writers Festival in Bali (2015).
She has been on judging panels and committees for PEN, the Neustadt Prize, The Berlin Prize, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Rona Jaffe Foundation prizes, Asian American Writers Workshop writing contests, and many more.
She has taught creative writing and literature at Bard College, Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, Wesleyan University, Sarah Lawrence College, Vermont College of Fine Arts, Hofstra University, Fordham University, Bucknell University, Santa Fe University of Art and Design, Fairfield University’s MFA program, the University of Leipzig (where she was a Picador Guest Professor), the Bruce High Quality Foundation, and the Gotham Writers Workshop. Additionally, she has been guest faculty at the Yale Writers Conference, Cleveland State University’s Imagination Conference, Taos Summer Writers’ Conference, Grub Street Muse & Marketplace Conference, Kundiman Conferences, and many more.
She is working on a children’s book for Civil Coping Mechanism’s new imprint WHITE RABBIT.
Her next book is her first memoir. Sick will be published by HarperPerennial (May 2018): “a memoir of chronic illness, misdiagnosis, addiction, and the myth of full recovery, chronicling the long, arduous discovery of her late-stage Lyme Disease.”
She is a literary criticism columnist for The Virginia Quarterly Review, contributing fiction editor to ROAR, and serves on the advisory board of University of Iowa Press’s The Iowa Review Series in Fiction. She also runs The Wing’s book club.
She currently lives in New York City’s Harlem, and is Writer in Residence at Bard College.
Photo: Marion Ettlinger