Porochista Khakpour’s family moved to Los Angeles after fleeing the Iranian Revolution, giving up their successes only to be greeted by an alienating culture. Growing up as an immigrant in America means that one has to make one’s way through a confusing tangle of conflicting cultures and expectations. And Porochista is pulled between the glitzy culture of Tehrangeles, an enclave of wealthy Iranians and Persians in LA, her own family’s modest life and culture, and becoming an assimilated American. Porochista rebels—she bleaches her hair and flees to the East Coast, where she finds her community: other people writing and thinking at the fringes. But, 9/11 happens and with horror, Porochista watches from her apartment window as the towers fall. Extremism and fear of the Middle East rises in the aftermath and then again with the election of Donald Trump. Porochista is forced to finally grapple with what it means to be Middle-Eastern and Iranian, an immigrant, and a refugee in our country today.
Brown Album is a stirring collection of essays, at times humorous and at times profound, drawn from more than a decade of Porochista’s work and with new material included. Altogether, it reveals the tolls that immigrant life in this country can take on a person and the joys that life can give.
“Confusing, exhilarating, terrifying, sad, scary, magical. . . . This book was balm to my Turkish-American soul, and to my cosmopolitan-writer-beyond-nationalism soul. Every page is overflowing with verve and insight and hilarity and brilliance and sadness and historical and cultural specificity. Porochista Khakpour is a treasure.” —Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot
“The legendary Porochista Khakpour has created a rigorous, poetic and biting exploration of what it means to be brown, Iranian, female and American in a United States that has spent the last few decades putting these identities under siege.” —Molly Crabapple, author of Drawing Blood, Brothers of the Gun with Marwan Hisham
“Splendidly elegant. . . . A fluid collection of essays that reads like a memoir, it targets—with devastating precision—the internal conflicts, turmoil and sometime agony of being the ‘other’ in an America that has always been, and is perhaps more so today.” —Hooman Majd, author ofThe Ayatollah Begs to Differ
“Brilliant. . . . What I love most about Porochista Khakpour’s writing is her voice: always direct, always passionate, always clear and brave, full of compassion and vulnerability, always open to the world. Brown Album is both a manifesto of survival and a lyric journey.” —Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic and Dancing in Odessa
Incisive. . . . About which stories we chose to tell about ourselves, and about being brown in a country more blindingly white under Donald Trump. . . . Provocative pieces that detonate many notions of identity.” —Kirkus Reviews, (starred review)