2009-2010 New Student Reader
the Land of No
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
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
About the Author
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 as “A 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.”