"Journey From the Land of No is an immensely moving, extraordinarily eloquent, and passionate memoir. Its author begins what one may prophesy as a major literary career."
This is an elegantly written memoir of a young Iranian-American poet and journalist about growing up in Iran during the revolution.
Roya Hakakian was raised in a Jewish family in Tehran, daughter of an esteemed poet, in a household that hummed with intellectual life. As a young girl she dreamed of becoming a writer. But in February 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeyni returned with an iron fist from a 15-year exile, everything changed. Within a year, a third of Iran's Jewish population was gone. Within five years, Hakakian's family, too, was contemplating political asylum.
Journey from the Land of No is a lyrical coming-of-age story that creates an intimate portrait of life in Tehran: Roya's family and friends, her life at school, her observations of Iran's political life, and her longing to escape a sense of displacement from her home, culture, and language. This story of one deeply intelligent and perceptive young girl's attempt to find an authentic voice of her own at a time of cultural repression presents a view of Iran that readers have not yet encountered.
This new book has already been adopted for several courses, including a course on the Islamic Revolution at Concordia University.
"Political upheavals like the fall of the Shah of Iran and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism may be analyzed endlessly by scholars, but eyewitness accounts like Hakakian's help us understand what it was like to experience such a revolution firsthand."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"In 1979, a bright-eyed Jewish girl looked out the window of her new home in Tehran and saw the words "Jews get lost!" graffitied on the wall across the way. Five years later, in the midst of the Islamic revolution, Hakakian and her family did indeed "get lost"--moving to America. Now the 60 Minutes producer-turned-documentary filmmaker liberates her past by poignantly and delicately recounting the harrowing moments of a childhood burdened by religious persecution, censorship, and political strife. (In particular, the final, gut-wrenching "It's time we leave for America" scene illustrates the author's graceful, poetic style.) Hakakian successfully blends an adult's ripened awareness with a child's naive optimism to make this Journey well worth taking."
—Karyn L. Barr, journalist
Reading Group Guide available
Roya Hakakian is a former associate producer at CBS’s 60 Minutes and a documentary filmmaker. She is the author of two acclaimed volumes of poetry in Persian and is a contributor to National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. She lives in Connecticut. Visit her at RoyaHakakian.com.