The Last Illusion (Paperback)
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, 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. She received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and her nonfiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Harper's, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, among many others. She teaches at Columbia's M.F.A. program, Fordham, and Wesleyan. She lives in New York City.