Porochista Khakpour – The Last Illusion (3 stars)

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The Last Illusion

(Bloomsbury Circus)

Take two potentially life-changin­­g events (Y2K and 9/11), throw in an old Persian myth and a delusional illusionist, then add an undertone of behavioural psychology and there, in a nutshell, is The Last Illusion.

When Zal is born in Iran, his mother, horrified at his pale skin and hair, locks him in a cage and raises him as a bird. Discovered many years later by a documentary filmmaker, Zal’s plight attracts the attention of Anthony Hendricks, a behavioural psychologist who adopts him and brings him to New York. As September 11 approaches, Zal’s struggle in adapting to modern society runs parallel alongside the build-up to the most devastating attack the city has ever seen.

Porochista Khakpour’s tale has the potential to be distasteful given the deeply emotive nature of the incidents that form the plot, but the injection of myth, legend and illusion offer a new perspective on the day that devastated New York. Enjoyable, but still deeply unsettling, The Last Illusion is stark and real, no matter how wrapped up in fiction it may be.

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