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Biography

Porochista Khakpour was born in Tehran 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 (twice), The Ucross Foundation (four times), and Yaddo. Her work has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes. She is the recipient of a 2012 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Literature Fellowship in Creative Writing (Prose). In 2024, she will be a MacDowell and Civitella Ranieri fellow.

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.”

Her most widely-read book, the memoir SICK, was published by the Harper Perennial imprint of HarperCollins (2018). It was called “a memoir of chronic illness, misdiagnosis, addiction, and the myth of full recovery, chronicling the long, arduous discovery of her late-stage Lyme Disease.” It was a Best Book of 2018 according to TIME, Real Simple, Entropy, Mental Floss, Bitch Media, Autostraddle, The Paris Reivew, LitHub, and more. It was published by Canongate in the UK.

In May 2020, the Vintage imprint of Knopf Doubleday published her first collection of essays, Brown Album to all starred pre-pub reviews and much critical acclaim.

In June 2024, the Pantheon imprint of Knopf Doubleday published her third novel Tehrangeles. The novel has been a “Most Anticipated/Best” book in lists by TIME, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, W, The New York Post, Literary Hub, Electric Literature, Nylon, The National, The Seattle Times, Library Journal, Alta Journal, and more. It was also a June 2024 Indie Next Pick and an NPR Book of the Day. Kevin Kwan endorsed the novel: “Like Little Women on an ayahuasca trip, Tehrangeles is delightfully twisted and heartfelt. If you set a TikTok mukbang at a Crazy Rich Persian wedding, you’d still have a long way to go to capture the extravagant eccentricities of the Milani sisters.  Porochista Khakpour is a satirist extraordinaire who astutely captures the zeitgeist of a culture and a place where “reality” is just something you livestream and truth is a billion times stranger than fiction.  The antics and agonies of the Milani family had me googling pet psychics and turning the pages gleefully—at turns surprised and horrified, but always charmed and laughing so hard.”

She penned the following forwards/introduction: a new English edition of one of the greatest modern Iranian novels of all time, Sadegh Hedayat’s The Blind Owl (Grove, 2010); a novel by Chinese experimental writer Can Xue, Frontier (Open Letter, 2017); New Yorker writer Alison Rose’s rereleased memoir Better Than Sane (Godine, 2023), and Kurdish writer Farad Pirbal’s short story collection The Potato Eaters (Deep Vellum, 2024).

Her other writing (essays, features, reviews, cover stories, and columns) have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Conde Nast Traveler, The Daily BeastThe Village Voice, The Chicago ReaderBookforum, BOMB, Al Jazeera America, Vice, GQ, The Paris Review DailyElleSpin, Slate, Salon, Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, GuernicaDeparturesPaperFlauntNylonBidounAlefCanteen, 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 was most recently a speaker at the Women Deliver conference in Kigali, Rwanda (2023).

She has been on a jury member, judge, reader, etc for PEN (PEN/Open Book, PEN/Faulkner, & PEN/Saul Bellow), the NEA, 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 (where she was Writer-in-Residence from 2014-2017), 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, Stonecoast’s low-residency MFA, the University of Leipzig (where she was a Picador Guest Professor), the Bruce High Quality Foundation, and the Gotham Writers Workshop. She currently teaches classes online at The Center for Fiction, Corporeal Writing, and The Shipman Agency Work Room.

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.

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.”

She was a literary criticism columnist for The Virginia Quarterly Review , a senior editor at Los Angeles Review of Books, and contributing editor at The Offing.  She edited a digital zine for Medium in 2018, co-edited Evergreen Review’s December 2022 Theresa Hak Kyung Cha/Dictee special issue, and guest-edited of Guernica‘s Iranian-American issue, which came out in November 2011.Most recently, she was the editor of Evergreen Review’s first Iran issue (spring 2023). She also served on the advisory board of the University of Iowa Press’s The Iowa Review Series in Fiction. She is currently a contributing editor at The Evergreen Review.

She lives in New York City’s Harlem.

 

 

 

Photo: Bing Guan