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New Student Reader

2009-2010 New Student Reader

 

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 the Author

Ron Suskind is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author who has written some of America's most important works of nonfiction, framing national debates while exploring the complexities of human experience. (Taken from www.ronsuskind.com Monday May 3, 2010.)

About Cedric Jennings

jenningsA Hope in the Unseen ends with Cedric entering his junior year at Brown University. That was 1997. He went on to graduate in 1999 with a 3.3 average, majoring in education with a minor in applied math. With the Internet craze in full swing, Cedric – after spending a summer managing the Salvation Army office in Providence –took a job with VarsityBooks.com, the online bookseller. A year later, he left that company for a job with MicroStrategy Inc., the large data-mining company based in Northern Virginia. As the new economy collapsed in early 2001, so did MicroStrategy's fortunes. Cedric, thinking through the winter that he might like to get more education, was prepared. On a Tuesday morning in April, he – along with many colleagues on the Microstrategy staff – received a pink slip. On Wednesday, he received a thick letter from Harvard's Graduate School of Education. In the spring of 2002, Cedric received his master's degree in education from Harvard with high marks. He spent the summer working at the Washington's centrist Progressive Policy Institute, analyzing national education policy. In the fall of 2004, he began another master's degree program, this time in social work, at the University of Michigan. He has grown up. The options and opportunities before him are vast.

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