FICTION

The Last Illusion

Bloomsbury USA. May 2014. 288p. ISBN 9781620403044. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781620403051. F
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"Exactly once upon a time in a small village in northern Iran, a child of the wrong color was born." So begins this latest novel from Khakpour (Sons and Other Flammable Objects), which centers on Zal, whose mother cages him with her menagerie of birds until he is ten years old. Years after being rescued, Zal lives with his adopted father in New York City and tries to shape something of a normal life. But Zal is still obsessed with one thing—flight. He becomes fixated on illusionist Bran Silber, who claims he will fly at his forthcoming show. Enter Asiya McDonald, an artist from a grotesque Upper East Side family with her own tragic secrets and ominous premonitions, whom Zal comes to love in his own way, "normal" or not. Just as life is becoming clear to Zal, his world is threatened, and the city is blindsided by 9/11.
VERDICT Khakpour's prose is fluid and visceral, while the narrative plays smoke and mirrors with reality and perspective. If some bloviating on unimportant details is overlooked, this novel is a literary gem full of sadness, guts, and wonder. For any adult who enjoys good fiction.

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