Darius the Great Is Not Okay

Darius the Great Is Not Okay


Adib Khorram

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Darius the Great Is Not Okay Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Adib Khorram's Darius the Great Is Not Okay. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Adib Khorram

Khorram was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. In high school, he was an avid participant in school theater productions, and he also took several afterschool writing classes. At Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, Khorram studied design and technical theater; he then worked for several years in event production. Darius the Great is Not Okay, published in 2018, was Khorram’s first novel, and it was published to great acclaim—it’s been awarded YALSA’s William C. Morris Award for Best Debut Author Writing for Teens and was listed as one of the best teen books of 2018 by Buzzfeed, the New York Public Library, Time, and BookBub. Khorram continued Darius’s story in Darius the Great Deserves Better, and he’s also written several other novels for young adults. Several aspects from Darius are based on Khorram’s personal experiences: he was raised Bahá’í, like Sohrab in the novel (though Khorram identifies as an atheist), his family is Iranian, and though it’s not made explicit until Darius the Great Deserves Better, Darius is, like Khorram, queer.
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Historical Context of Darius the Great Is Not Okay

Darius touches on a number of social issues in both Iran and the United States. While Oregon is in no way a hot spot for Iranian immigrants, between 10,000 and 15,000 Iranians live in the Portland Metro area, where Darius and his family live. Through Sohrab, Darius learns some about Bahá’í persecution in Iran. While Iran’s constitution stipulates protections for Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian Iranians, leaving out the Bahá’í faith (which is the largest religious group after Muslims in the country) means that it essentially doesn’t exist in a political or legal sense—and as Sohrab explains, this means that Bahá’ís are often killed or imprisoned for no reason. The Iranian government has also systematically denied Bahá’í children education, which is why Sohrab is worried about achieving his dreams of becoming an architect or engineer. While abuse against Bahá’ís has been widely condemned by the United Nations, the European Union, and the U.S., the fact that Iran’s government is an Islamic theocracy means that there’s no religious freedom in the country. This is why, for instance, Darius explains that his Zoroastrian relatives in Iran can no longer practice “sky burials,” as this type of burial was banned after the Islamic revolution in 1979. Finally, both Darius and Dad are diagnosed with depression, which the World Health Organization estimates affects about 5 percent of the world population.

Other Books Related to Darius the Great Is Not Okay

In 2019, Khorram continued Darius’s story in Darius the Great Deserves Better, which picks back up several months after Darius the Great is Not Okay ends. As a novel about bullying, particularly about ethnically, religiously, or physically motivated bullying, Darius shares similarities with novels like American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, Don’t Call Me Ishmael by Michael Gerard Bauer, and Wonder by R. J. Palacio. And given Darius’s sexuality (he’s revealed to be queer in Darius the Great Deserves Better), Darius is often grouped with other young adult novels featuring queer protagonists, including They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera and You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson, but especially with Becky Albertalli’s hit novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. The sometimes difficult relationships between fathers and sons is a popular literary subject; works as varied as Barack Obama’s Dreams from my Father, the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling (and particularly her play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), and the aptly titled 19th-century Russian novel Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev explore father-son relationships. Within the novel itself, Darius adores J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series, and he also makes a brief reference to Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby-Dick. The idea of the Übermensch, or the ideal man (which Darius uses to refer to his dad), is one that Nietzsche proposed in his philosophical work Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
Key Facts about Darius the Great Is Not Okay
  • Full Title: Darius the Great is Not Okay
  • When Written: 2017
  • Where Written: Kansas City, Missouri
  • When Published: 2018
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Bildungsroman
  • Setting: Portland, Oregon and Yazd, Iran
  • Climax: After Sohrab lashes out at Darius, Darius and Dad speak honestly with each other for the first time.
  • Antagonist: Various bullies such as Trent Bolger, Ali-Reza, and Hossein
  • Point of View: First Person

Extra Credit for Darius the Great Is Not Okay

Darius the Great. While Darius decides that Alexander the Great was the biggest bully of the ancient world, Darius the Great was no saint—he overthrew the legitimate king of the Achaemenid Empire and took the throne for himself. However, he’s remembered for his many construction projects, namely roads, which helped to connect far-reaching parts of what was then the biggest empire in the world.