Cover Photo: Icy and Sot/flickr
Icy and Sot/flickr

How to Write Iranian-America, or The Last Essay

“The essay will feel like it’s killing you and the ending will not be what you thought it might be.”

all the great books people in New York City read, please.andan American one, pleaseWhere are your parents, young lady?When you are older you will care less about things.refugee, resident alien, political asylumimmigrant, foreigner

TheMarket Guide for Young Writers, Ghosts. Victorian girls, maybe ones with tough names. Easter bunnies that are homicidalBunniculaCandy. White girls. More white girls.

writing workshopsLos Angeles. The devil. Literary theory. Art. The East Village. White men. And more white men.Iranian Studies fieldsfields

but why don’t you write what you know?writing what I know was never my thing, Math. Chaos theory. Rape.Dogs. Suicidal people. Suicidal people with dogs. 9/11


Miss Literary Iranian-AmericaFirst Iranian-American novelist

But about Iranian-AmericansLook, you did that to yourself, it’s all in your novelfair enough

writing what I know was never my thing,


serviceService? Service.

Thirtysomethingyes of courseservice

but we’re big fans of your essays, so can you make it an essay not a review


Hip hop? White girls? Bars? Wars?

I feel like they’re ripping you off,

refugee, resident alien, political asylumimmigrant, foreigner

End by thinking about anything yourself

One word: Run. Run with everything you got, dear reader.

love. Love.

Thank you, I think I know what to do.

Porochista Khakpour is the author of the forthcoming memoir Sick (Harper Perennial, May 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’s “Fall’s Best,” and a New York Times “Editor’s Choice.” She is currently writer-in-residence at Bard College, adjunct faculty at Columbia University, and visiting faculty at VCFA's MFA program.