Porochista Khakpour, On How Not To Write Yet Another Immigrant Novel

This fall I’m bringing my friend Porochista to Amherst College to read from her debut novel, Sons and Other Flammable Objects. The novel is, to my mind, one of the most enjoyable novels I’ve read recently. I’ll quote to you from one of my favorite parts, a description of insomnia:

Xerxes couldn’t recall experiencing a full night’s sleep in many, many, many months. Of coure he knew he had to have slept somewhere here and there, some tidbits of snooze, just enough to keep the body and head going at a bare minimum, but he couldn’t remember a “normal” night of it. Slowly, over the course of a few seasons he had felt himself fade more and more into a constantly living phantom, an uninterrupted consciousness that existed at a consistent, downgraded vibrancy–lit, always, but always dimly lit. The lack of sleep, while it increased the quantity of his active life–if it could be called that, those wasted frustrated hours staring at clocks and praying to thin air for even a few minutes worth of active-mind shutdown–sucked away at the quality of his life. He was always living, but day after day that living grew shittier and shittier. He never felt the cliche more poignantly–every day we are dying. That was it: without the intermission of sleep, all he had to face was that his heartbeats were running, but running out as well.

It wasn’t until late September 2001 that he gave up even trying. He simply stopped sleeping for days at a time, not even getting intoa horizontal position, not even offing lights, not even trying to kid it. He didn’t want to sleep, suddenly–who knew what could happen to the world if you looked away too long?

In the above clip, she sits down with Mark Molaro for an interview with him, for his web program, The Alcove.

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