Festival Five with NSK Juror Adib Khorram

September 25, 2020


A photograph of NSK juror Adib Khorram juxtaposed with the logo of the 2020 Neustadt Lit Fest

Adib Khorram is an author, graphic designer, and tea enthusiast. Iranian American, he was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. A theater kid in high school, he went on to study design and technical theater at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, with an emphasis in lighting design. He later attended one year of film school in Vancouver. He returned to Kansas City after school and has worked in the event production industry ever since. His first novel, Darius the Great Is Not Okay, was published in 2018 by Dial Books for Young Readers and won YALSA’s William C. Morris Award for Best Debut Author Writing for Teens and the Asian/Pacific American Literature Association’s Young Adult Award.

In addition to serving as a juror for the 2021 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature, Khorram will participate in the Readings and Book Giveaways by the 2021 NSK Prize Jury event.

Q: What was your first favorite book, the book that made you a reader?

A: I think it was probably Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth. I was a kid burdened with pretty intense ennui, and Milo’s story really resonated with me in ways I couldn’t articulate until I was older.

Q: What is the best book-receiving experience you’ve had?

A: That’s such a tough question, since I’m usually the one buying my own books! So I’m going to flip it and share the best experience I’ve had seeing someone else receive a book: it was watching some of my young cousins light up as they read Drawn Together, Minh Lê and Dan Santat’s beautiful picture book about using art to connect with family across a language barrier.

Q: From among your (likely) tall to-be-read stack, which book or two are you absolutely determined to read soon and why?

A: I’m really excited to Daniel Nayeri’s Everything Sad Is Untrue. It’s at the top of my stack!

Q: What is the book you most often gift children and why?

A: Hmm, I seem to have spoiled my answer for this question by not reading ahead! Drawn Together is what I most often gift young readers at the picture-book age, and for older readers, I’ve started gifting Kwame Mbalia’s Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky.

Q: We see that you’re a tea enthusiast. What teas feature in your ideal reading experience?

A: That depends on what I’m reading and when! I’ve been doing a lot of reading at night lately, and so I need something calming, like jasmine tea or even herbal tisanes. I’ve been really into butterfly-pea flower tisanes lately.