Roya Hakakian

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Roya Hakakian
Roya Hakakian
Roya Hakakian
BornPersian: رویا حکاکیان
ca. 1966
Tehran, Iran
OccupationPoet, journalist, writer
LanguagePersian, English
Alma materBrooklyn College, Hunter College, Southern Connecticut State University.
GenrePoetry, non-fiction
Notable worksJourney from the Land of No, Assassins of the Turquoise Palace, Persian: بخاطر آب‎ (For the Sake of Water), Persian: نامی سزاوار نیایش‎ (A Name to Worship)
Notable awards2004 Best Book of the Year (Publishers Weekly), 2004 Best Non-fiction Book of the Year (Elle), 2006 Latifeh Yarshater Book Award (Persian Heritage Foundation), 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship in Non-fiction,Asian American Literary Award(AAWW), 2017.

Roya Hakakian (Persian: رویا حکاکیان‎; born 1966) is a poet, journalist and writer. Born in Iran, she came to the United States as a refugee and is now a naturalized citizen.


Hakakian was born and raised in a Persian Jewish family in Tehran. She was a teenager during the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which she felt excited by. After the return of Ayatollah Khomeini and the rise in anti-semitism, social and economic pressures, and ongoing war with Iraq, she emigrated in May 1985, to the United States on political asylum. She studied psychology at Brooklyn College[1] and earned a Master of Social Work at Southern Connecticut State University.

Hakakian came to critical attention as an author for her 2004 memoir, Journey from the Land of No. Her essays on Iranian issues have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and on NPR. Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008,[2] she published Assassins of the Turquoise Palace in 2011, a non-fiction account of the Mykonos restaurant assassinations of Iranian opposition leaders in Berlin.  

Hakakian was a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations from 2000-2004. From 2009-2010, she was a fellow at the Yale Whitney Humanities Center and is a current fellow at Yale University’s Davenport College. In 2014-2015, she was a visiting fellow at the Wilson Center for International Scholars.[3] Since 2015, she has taught writing at the THREAD at Yale.[4] She was a founding member of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center[5] and served on the board of Refugees International.[6]

She has been a featured speaker at many colleges and universities as well as appearing on CBS This Morning, PBS' Now with Bill Moyers, The Dylan Ratigan Show on MSNBC, among others.

Harry Kreisler's Political Awakenings: Conversations with History highlighted Hakakian among "20 of the most important activists, academics, and journalists of our generation.”[7]



Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran (Crown) was a Barnes & Noble's Pick of the Week, Ms. magazine Must Read of the Summer, Publishers Weekly’s Best Book of the Year, and an Elle magazine's Best Nonfiction Book of 2004.[8] It also won the Persian Heritage Foundation's 2006 Latifeh Yarshater Book Award, and is the 2005 winner of the Best Memoir by the Connecticut Center for the Book. It has been a Freshman Experience Book at several colleges throughout the US and has been translated into Dutch, Spanish, and German.

Hakakian's latest book Assassins of the Turquoise Palace (Grove/Atlantic) was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Pick and a New York Times’ Notable Book of 2011.


Hakakian is the author of two collections of poetry in Persian, the first of which, For the Sake of Water, was nominated as poetry book of the year by Iran News in 1993. In 2006, it won the Latifeh Yarshater Award from the Association for Iranian Studies. Hakakian was listed among the leading new voices in Persian poetry in the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World. Her poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies around the world, including La Regle Du Jeu, Strange Times My Dear: The Pen Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature,[9] and the forthcoming W.W. Norton’s Contemporary Voices of the Eastern World: An Anthology of Poems. She contributes to the Persian Literary Review, and served as the poetry editor of Par Magazine for six years.[10]

Film and television[edit]

Hakakian has collaborated on over a dozen hours of programming for leading journalism units on network television, including 60 Minutes and on A&E's Travels With Harry, and ABC's Documentary Specials with Peter Jennings, Discovery and The Learning Channel. Commissioned by UNICEF, Hakakian's film, Armed and Innocent,[11] on the subject of the involvement of underage children in wars around the world, was a nominee for best short documentary at several festivals around the world.

Victim of hacking[edit]

On February 2015,[12] Hakakian's Gmail and Facebook accounts were hacked, as well as her personal cellphone. It is believed the government of Iran was behind the incident.


  • Journey from the Land of No: A girlhood caught in revolutionary Iran
  • Assassins of the Turquoise Palace
  • Persian: بخاطر آب‎ (For the Sake of Water)
  • Persian: نامی سزاوار نیایش‎ (A Name to Worship)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Invitation to see alum Roya Hakakian speak to CUNY students". Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  2. ^ "Roya Hakakian 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship page". Archived from the original on October 15, 2011. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  3. ^ "Roya Hakakian". Wilson Center. 2012-01-04. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
  4. ^ "Mentors". THREAD at Yale. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
  5. ^ "New York Times article on the founding of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center". The New York Times. January 9, 2005. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
  6. ^ "Board of Directors for Refugees International". Refugees International. Archived from the original on August 1, 2011. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
  7. ^ Kreisler, Harry (2010). Political Awakenings: Conversations with History. New York: New Press. ISBN 978-1-59558-340-6. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  8. ^ "Mention of Elle Award in Farsi". Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  9. ^ "Multicultural and World Literature Anthologies, comp. Alok Yadav". Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  10. ^ "List of editors for Par Magazine". Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  11. ^ "Documentaries Armed & Innocent". United Nations. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  12. ^ An Iranian Speaks Out—and Gets Hacked. The Daily Beast

External links[edit]