Cover Image: Brown Album

Brown Album

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Member Reviews

The highs of career successes and the lows of discrimination and emotional defeats are laid bare in this series of essays by an Iranian American living in a white America. She writes with humor about subjects that are very pertinent in the climate created by Trumpism.
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In Brown Album, Khakpour explores what it is to be an Iranian Muslim in America, and her feelings struggling with her identity. 
This essay collection will make you laugh & cry, and become completely absorbed in this writer's fascinating and entertaining adventures. 

Being a white woman, I can only speak on so much of this. Having read Sick by Khakpour and relating to it so much, I knew going into Brown Album I wasn’t going to relate to it in the same way, but what kept bringing me back was the writing and storytelling. I so much enjoyed the stories Khakpour has to tell, especially about her family- I will never get the image of Khakpour and her mother eating sheep testicles and brain matter out of my head! 

I think this is a book that everyone can take away a little something from. Khakpour’s voice is essential in a time when American’s relations with the Middle East are so delicate, in a time when the Muslim no-fly ban is reality.

4 stars.

***ARC provided by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Brown Album collects Porochista Khakpour’s essays exploring identity and expression, growing up, creative writing and loving stories, America and 9/11, and mental health, among myriad of things. She opens the book with positioning herself as an Iranian-American writer, having unwittingly become a kind of representative of Iranians in America or in the West generally, particularly as immigrants and within a setting where these two identities have long been at odds with one another. Being asked to write about various topics related to Iranian-American lives and stories, she’d found herself “a spokesperson of my people“. This essay collection then is in great part dealing with this identity split – Iran and America having a rocky history, hardly less so after 9/11, explaining perhaps some of the authors obsession with this event in history and trying to grapple with its shockwaves many years ahead in her fiction writing. Khakpour describes herself as a novelist but I thought she excelled as an essayist – raising questions of importance without preaching, through the grounded nature of weaving in personal experiences with rawness and allowing for sharp introspections and honest ambiguities; her story-telling really resonated with me on a personal level as a part-Iranian reader but equally allowed me to reflect on things I hadn’t heard anyone questioning before.

In one of the earliest essays she attempts to confront the split of Iran’s identity as part of a dreamscape “Persia”, with rich art and history; in contrast to the country’s bleak present and conflicted relationship within and outside its national boundaries. “In the beginning there was the word… Persian“. Its connotations of all that is good about a country in a single word, as a strategic distancing from that four-letter name suggesting hostage crisis, terrorists, islamists, suspicion. As much as she questions some of the country’s identity crisis, she shares some of her personal journey in figuring out who she was – as an immigrant of two identities especially as she had few memories of Iran, having moved as a three year old – she describes some of the mixed feelings she has of her own legacy, how she relates to her parents’ background, political stance, attitude towards their new homeland, and where they belong. Her story of coming of age is increasingly complicated with some health issues that shapes many of her life decisions and paths taken. She finds a particular sense of purpose and connection through books and story-telling, she shares this passion through some of her journey into becoming a teacher of creative writing and a published author.

I thought this was a wonderful book that really illustrates on the one hand the wider experience of being an immigrant or child of immigrants stuck in between two cultures and identities – never quite belonging to either; as well as the more specific relationship she has with her birth country – a relationship that she continues to make sense of through the writing of this book. A wonderful, thoughtful and in my opinion, highly eye-opening book about some of the experiences of someone both being able to “pass” and being judged as “other” in the country they have made their own. “I accepted it [America] and never, until much later, considered that it might not accept me”.
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Having felt like I got to know Porochista Khakpour through reading her bestselling memoir Sick, I was glad to gain a deeper understanding of the writer through her most recent work Brown Album. This narrative explores Khakpour’s earlier years and young adulthood as an immigrant to the United States after her family fleeing the Iranian Revolution. 

It’s a fascinating and engaging and sometimes necessarily biting exploration on identity and culture.

Many thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
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This is a wonderfully written, deeply raw essay collection. Porochista is very honest about her experience as an immigrant and her feeling of being an exile both from her home country, her immigrant community, and America in general. Yes, 9/11 and Trump’s election does play into these essays heavily. I like that she isn’t afraid to end the book with the essay that is probably the most raw, honest, and angry of all of these, and that it doesn’t end on an upbeat note. Definitely pick this up when it comes out.
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The author wrote a raw and personal account of what it was like to be a teenage immigrant.  On top of the normal insecurities one experiences as a teen, the author had to deal with feelings of being different than their peers.  I appreciated the author not sugarcoating her experiences, as it was important to me as a reader to have the good and the bad highlighted.
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A fascinating involving book of essays honest open told  in Porochista Khakpours unmistakable style She shares with us her her family  their coming to America from Iran.adjusting to being immigrants   on through her teenage years her life.All her experiences good bad and ugly she holds nothing back opens her world to us in amazingly talented voice.#netgalley #knopfdoubkeday
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Porochista Khakpour brings forth another memoir that has very little to do with the health issues that dominate her best-selling "Sick". These are essays involve her family, her childhood, her wilder teens and early twenties, her travels, and mostly how they all are intertwined with her Iranian heritage. She is quickly becoming one of the most eloquent spokespersons on race, gender, religion and social identity.
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