A sense of humor was always Khakpour’s best defense.
Question: What role does comedy play in your book?
Khakpour: A big role. I have a lot of humor in the novel – dark humor usually. It’s sort of part of who I am, and part of the literature that I’ve always loved. Humor is a way to cope with some of the heaviness of the novel. Humor was always my answer. It was my way of fitting in as a kid in elementary school, you know, and it being very obvious that I was a foreigner. I have an unpronounceable name. My parents were always overdressing me for school. I, you know . . . Early on I didn’t have a completely great grasp of the English language. And so my way of coping with that time period was to be kind of weird, and embrace that, and not completely be the class clown; but definitely have a huge sense of humor about my funny dresses, and my funny name, and you know and my big hair. And so I immediately became that sort of kid, and I always took a lot of pride in not completely fitting in. For instance I never had a slumber party experience. My parents never wanted me to spend the night at any other kid’s house. And you know I would always act like I didn’t want to. And I would make fun of these girls who would gather and, you know, read their issues of YM, and talk about boys and clothes. You know I would always beat them to . . . to the making fun and talk about how I thought they were such losers because they had these sort of girlie moments. Or my parents discouraged me from going to school dances and all that. Or I wasn’t allowed to go out on Friday nights or something like that. I would always act . . . I would always use that to my advantage and act like I never wanted to, and eventually I didn’t. Eventually I wanted to be at home on a Friday night reading and writing. So I became a bit of an antisocial, iconoclastic character more and more as I grew older. And I began to embrace that, and humor just became part of that package. And so the novel is definitely punctuated with laughter – usually the self-deprecating sort, which is most close to me I think.