Featuring Porochista Khakpour
Porochista Khakpour is the author of the forthcoming memoir Sick (Harper Perennial, June 2018) and the novels The Last Illusion (Bloomsbury, 2014)—a 2014 best book of the year according to NPR, Kirkus, BuzzFeed, PopMatters, Electric Literature and more—and Sons and Other Flammable Objects (Grove, 2007)—the 2007 California Book Award winner in “First Fiction,” a Chicago Tribune “Fall’s Best” and a New York Times “Editor’s Choice.” Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, Bookforum and Elle, on Al Jazeera America, Slate, Salon, Spin, CNN, and The Daily Beast, and in many other publications around the world. She’s had fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the University of Leipzig (Picador Guest Professorship), Yaddo, Ucross and Northwestern University’s Academy for Alternative Journalism, among others. She was last writer- in-residence at Bard College, adjunct faculty at Columbia University and visiting faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts’s MFA program. Born in Tehran and raised in the Los Angeles area, she lives in New York City’s Harlem.
We had the opportunity to interview author Porochista Khakpour, whose essay “Home” appears in All the Women in My Family Sing. This is what we learned…
What inspired you to write your essay for this anthology?
I admire Deborah Santana greatly and the idea behind this anthology just really spoke to me. I’ve wanted to be a part of something like this for a while and I was so glad someone had done it the way I imagined it would come together.
What is one of the most memorable challenges you have experienced as a woman of color in the twenty-first century?
Since 9/11 it’s been nonstop challenge for me—as a Middle Eastern woman of Muslim identity, I can’t think of a year where I breathed easy. I mean before that it was still hard—the circumstances of my coming to the America, through revolution and war in Iran, certainly meant I knew my life would be challenging. But I never guessed Islamophobia would be the main theme and preoccupation of my life as a writer particularly. It never ends—with this administration certainly it seems every day it gets worse.
Give an example of women’s roles in today's social justice movement.
Women are the leaders, I feel, especially women of color. I think about how women of color are strong forces of activism, from social media to the Women’s March. I feel very proud of this identity of mine.
What have your experiences been in leadership as a woman of color?
Primarily I’ve been an educator—I’ve worked as a professor, a tutor, an advisor, and more, for over a dozen years.
What do you most hope readers will take away from reading this book?
I really hope people will see the book for the celebration it is.