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 an Iranian-American poet, journalist and writer living in the United States. A lauded Persian poet turned television producer with programs like 60 Minutes, Hakakian became well known 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,[1] 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 founding member of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center,[2] and serves on the board of Refugees International.[3] Harry Kreisler's Political Awakenings: Conversations with History highlighted Hakakian among "20 of the most important activists, academics, and journalists of our generation".[4]

Early life[edit]

Hakakian was born and raised in a Persian Jewish family in Tehran. She lived through the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and actively supported it. As the Iran–Iraq War raged and restrictive laws became more common, she emigrated unwillingly to the United States in May 1985 on political asylum. Settling in the New York area, she studied psychology at Brooklyn College[5] and went on to earn a Master of Social Work at Hunter College.


Non-fiction books[edit]

Her memoir of growing up a Persian Jewish teenager in revolutionary Iran, 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, Elle magazine's Best Nonfiction Book of 2004[6], 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. Journey from the Land of No has been translated into several languages and is available in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain. She is also a recipient of the 2008 Guggenheim fellowship in nonfiction. Hakakian was also awarded a fellowship at the Wilson Center For International Scholars in 2014

Hakakian's latest book Assassins of the Turquoise Palace – released on September 6, 2011, through Grove/Atlantic – is a non-fiction account of the Mykonos restaurant assassinations on September 17, 1992, in Berlin. In this attack, four Kurdish and Iranian activists were killed following a pattern of assassinations of opposition leaders (see: Chain murders of Iran). Hakakian's book explores the assassinations and the implications of Iran, their fallout, and the subsequent court case known as the Mykonos trial that became one of the most high-profile cases in Europe that ended implicating the highest level of Iranian government. It was a New York Times Book Review editors choice.


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. She 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,[7] 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.[8]

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 Documentary Specials with Peter Jennings, Discovery and The Learning Channel. Commissioned by UNICEF, Hakakian's film, Armed and Innocent,[9] 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.


Her opinion columns, essays, and book reviews appear in English language publications, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the "Huffington Post" and the Wall Street Journal among them. She is also a contributor to the Weekend Edition of NPR’s All Things Considered. Her articles have also recently gained international attention, having been translated to German in Die Zeit.

Victim of hacking[edit]

On February 2015,[10] 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. ^ "Roya Hakakian 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship page". Archived from the original on October 15, 2011. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  2. ^ "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.
  3. ^ "Board of Directors for Refugees International". Refugees International. Archived from the original on August 1, 2011. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
  4. ^ Kreisler, Harry (2010). Political Awakenings: Conversations with History. New York: New Press. ISBN 978-1-59558-340-6. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  5. ^ "Invitation to see alum Roya Hakakian speak to CUNY students". Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  6. ^ "Mention of Elle Award in Farsi". Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  7. ^ "Multicultural and World Literature Anthologies, comp. Alok Yadav". Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  8. ^ "List of editors for Par Magazine". Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  9. ^ "Documentaries Armed & Innocent". United Nations. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  10. ^ An Iranian Speaks Out—and Gets Hacked. The Daily Beast

External links[edit]