Monday, February 11, 2008

Book Review - Sons & Other Inflammable Objects

Number of Pages: 396
Publisher: Grove Press, New York
Year: 2007
Reviewed By: Dennis Matanda

Every dysfunctional family has a unique story to tell; and so you will be pleasantly delighted when you finish Porochista Khakpour’s first novel. This book, almost breathlessly written, literally flows through and around three Iranian immigrants – Darius; aptly named after the Biblical King Darius, his wife Lala [although we all scoff at this Americanized version of her Iranian name] and their son Xerxes [Pronounced Zerk – Zees].

Between our equal male protagonists, simple Father | Son secrets, tiny errors and realizations lead to painful separations, intense spoken and unspoken hostility and a warrior like love that affects everyone they meet between California and New York. Throw in the events around 9/11 and Suzanne, Xerxes’ girlfriend and you have a book you will take to work, to the bathroom and to bed.

Ms. Khakpour does not come to preach; however, you will taste rich Persian history and want more, empathize with how people grapple with the American Dream and the nightmares therein and of course, the selfless intimacy with which she shares her characters. In its complete and yet unsatisfying ending, you will, on your own, understand why Xerxes, Lala and Darius do the things they do.

This novel starts humorously slow, gains speed around the middle with a few colorful people and then leaves you - impatient and angry - looking for family solutions that could well be your own. Watch out, World, for there is NOW an American response to Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi!


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