Blackwell Library

New Student Reader

Journey From the Land of No | For Students | For Faculty/Staff Facilitators | For The Community


New Student Reader  

2009-2010 Book

About the Book    About Ms. Hakakian    About the Program    About the Committee    Timeline


Journey from the Land of No
by Roya Hakakian



About the Book

"In Journey from the Land of No Roya Hakakian recalls her childhood and adolescence in prerevolutionary Iran with candor and verve. The result is a beautifully written coming-of-age story about one deeply intelligent and perceptive girl’s attempt to find an authentic voice of her own at a time of cultural closing and repression. Remarkably, she manages to re-create a time and place dominated by religious fanaticism, violence, and fear with an open heart and often with great humor.

Hakakian was twelve years old in 1979 when the revolution swept through Tehran. The daughter of an esteemed poet, she grew up in a household that hummed with intellectual life. Family gatherings were punctuated by witty, satirical exchanges and spontaneous recitations of poetry. But the Hakakians were also part of the very small Jewish population in Iran who witnessed the iron fist of the Islamic fundamentalists increasingly tightening its grip. It is with the innocent confusion of youth that Roya describes her discovery of a swastika—“a plus sign gone awry, a dark reptile with four hungry claws”—painted on the wall near her home. As a schoolgirl she watched as friends accused of reading blasphemous books were escorted from class by Islamic Society guards, never to return. Only much later did Roya learn that she was spared a similar fate because her teacher admired her writing.

Hakakian relates in the most poignant, and at times painful, ways what life was like for women after the country fell into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists who had declared an insidious war against them, but we see it all through the eyes of a strong, youthful optimist who somehow came up in the world believing that she was different, knowing she was special. At her loneliest, Roya discovers the consolations of writing while sitting on the rooftop of her house late at night. There, “pen in hand, I led my own chorus of words, with a melody of my own making.” And she discovers the craft that would ultimately enable her to find her own voice and become her own person.

A wonderfully evocative story, Journey from the Land of No reveals an Iran most readers have not encountered and marks the debut of a stunning new talent."
- Description taken from the Random House catalog. 


About Ms. Hakakian

Ms. 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, a recipient of the 2002 – 2003 Dewitt Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fellowship, and the winner of the 2004 Elle Readers’ Prize for Best Book of the Year in Nonfiction.  The Boston Globe describes Journey from the Land of No asA spectacular debut memoir…Only a major writing talent like Hakakian can use the pointed words of the mature mind to give the perspective of the child…She tackles ideologies of assimilation and oppression with poetic aplomb and precision…Hakakian’s tale of passage into womanhood lacks nothing.”   

 Highlights of our Salisbury University 2009 Fall New Student Reader Program will again include an essay and art contest. In addition, we are extending an invitation to the campus and community residents to hear Ms. Hakakian speak at 7:00 PM in the Great Hall of Holloway Hall on Thursday, August 27th, the evening prior to Convocation. 


Purpose of the Program

The purpose of the New Student Reader Program is to orient new students to our academic community at Salisbury University by having a common reading experience with fellow classmates, faculty, staff, and upper-class students who serve as orientation team peer leaders. 

The goal of the New Student Reader Program is to engage students in discussions, projects, curricular and co-curricular opportunities generated by a common reading experience.


Committee Members of the New Student Reader Program

Susan Brazer – Faculty/Research and Instruction Librarian

Sarah Case – Faculty/History Department

Diane Davis – Faculty/Clinical Laboratory Science/Medical Technology/Health Sciences Department

Lawanda Dockins-Gordy – Director/Guerrieri University Center

Shautauqua Downs – Student (Junior)

Loren Marquez – Faculty/English Department

Nicole Munday – Director/University Writing Center, Faculty/English Department

Patricia Richards – Faculty/REED Coordinator/Education Specialties Department

Edward Robeck – Faculty/ Teacher Education Department

Vaughn White – Director/Multicultural Student Services

Alex Williams - Student (Master's Program)



Thursday, August 27th

5:30 - 6:30 PM  Dinner for Essay & Art contest winners and their families with the President and other University Officials.  Held in the Worchester Room of the Commons.

7:00 - 8:00 PM   Author, Roya Hakakian speaks to the Community.  Held in the Great Hall and Social Room, Holloway Hall.


Friday, August 28th

9:00 - 10:00 AM  Convocation.  Held in Red Square.

10:15 - 11:15 AM  Small group discussions led by Faculty & Staff.  Held in various classrooms on the SU campus.

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM  Academic Open Houses. 
Held in respective Academic Schools.

12:30 - 1:30 PM  Lunch on lawn (New Students & Faculty) and Campus book signing by Author, Roya Hakakian.  Held on the lawn of Devilbiss Mall.

1:00 - 2:00 PM  New Student Reader book signing by Author, Roya Hakakian.  Held on the lawn of Devilbiss Mall.


For additional information about the public event or about the New Student Reader Program, please contact Lawanda Dockins-Gordy, Co-Chair, New Student Reader Committee
at 410-543-6100.

2008-2009 Book - Into the Wild   *   2007-2008 Book - The Glass Castle
2006 - 2007 Book - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
2005-2006  Book - Funny in Farsi