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. Novelist 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. Khakpour joins us via livestream to share a portrait of immigrant life with her book Brown Album: Essays On Exile And Identity. She recalls being 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.
Khakpour joins in conversation with Muslimah Media Watch founder Fatemeh Fakhraie, a digital marketing strategist focused on issues related to social media and women of color. Together they explore Khakpour’s stories of rebellion, how she bleached her hair and fled to the East Coast where she found a community of people writing and thinking at the fringes—and reveal the horror she felt on 9/11 as she watched from her apartment window as the towers fell. She chronicles how extremism and fear of the Middle East rose in the aftermath of the attacks and then flared again with the election of Donald Trump, forcing Khakpour to finally grapple with what it means to be Middle-Eastern and Iranian, an immigrant, and a refugee in our country today. In turns personal and profound, Khakpour draws from a decade of her own work to reveal the tolls that immigrant life in this country can take on a person and the joys that life can give.
Porochista Khakpour is an Iranian-American novelist and essayist who was born in Tehran in 1978 and raised in the Greater Los Angeles area. She is the author of the acclaimed books Sons and Other Flammable Objects and The Last Illusion, and her writing has been featured in Harper’s, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice, and many others.
Fatemeh Fakhraie is a digital marketing strategist who enjoys writing and speaking about issues related to social media, women and people of color in the workplace, and digital branding strategies. She is the founder of Muslimah Media Watch, a website dedicated to critically analyzing images of Muslim women in global media and pop culture.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle.