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Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  833 Ratings  ·  98 Reviews
From the Hardcover

“We stormed every classroom, inscribed our slogans on the blackboard . . . Never had mayhem brought more peace. All our lives we had been taught the virtues of behaving, and now we were discovering the importance of misbehaving. Too much fear had tainted our days. Too many afternoons had passed in silence, listening to a fanatic’s diatribes. We were rebel
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 28th 2005 by Three Rivers Press (first published August 10th 2004)
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Dec 08, 2012 Amene rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
این کتاب در جاهایی و جنبه های با اونچه از ایران اون زمان می دونیم متفاوته چون که نویسنده در عین حال که در ایران قبل از انقلاب و آزادی های آن دوره بهره مند بوده ولی بهرحال در فضایی با سنت های رایج و پیچیده ی یهودی زندگی می کرده هرچند مسالمت آمیز اما در هر حال جامعه ی یهودی و ایرانی در اون دوره رو به تصویر می کشه هرچند تصویرش با تصویری که پدر مادرهای مسلمان ما دارند چندان متفاوت نیست. در نقل تاریخ و دوره ی انقلاب شعر زدگی نسبتا کمتره ولی خوب همون نگاه های رایج غربی هم تا حدی دیده می شه. هرچند که د ...more
Apr 09, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
The somber cover, the title, and the reference to prison abuses at the opening of this book are a little misleading. This memoir is not especially dark or grim, and the journey it recounts is an internal one, more from the land of "yes" than "no." It captures that particular youthful optimism that buoys up children and adolescents in the worst of times. And the Islamic revolution in Iran becomes the worst of times for the community of 100,000 Jews living in Tehran in the late 1970s, as the monar ...more
Mar 11, 2013 Carole rated it it was amazing
Roya Hakakian is a producer for CBS' "60 Minutes". She is an Iranian Jew who emigrated from Iran with her family several years after the Ayatollah Khomeini came into power. This book is a memoir of her growing up years from about age 9 to age 18 in Tehran.

Hakakian does an amazing job of writing a coming-of-age story layered with the story of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. With intense detail, she describes the restrictions placed on her as a woman and as a Jew.

She is a voracious reader and des
Aug 02, 2009 Chip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well written, understated and powerful... a rare memoir that transcends to the level of literature. In fact, "Journey" reminds me of "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man." If you're looking for a diatribe or hate-fest, don't bother with this book - the author clearly loves the memory of her home and homeland, and carefully balances all the positive things that Tehran was with the bleak reality that Tehran has become. Like Ms. Hakakian and the protesters currently struggling for democracy in Ir ...more
Dawn Rogers Kroll
Apr 04, 2013 Dawn Rogers Kroll rated it it was amazing
Insightful ... a wonderful example of what life was like for a young person (especially a girl) who was present in Iran/Tehran at the time of the Shah's departure and Khomeini's new rule.
Jul 13, 2012 Tinea rated it liked it
Recommended to Tinea by: Alex Shams
Shelves: place, auto-biography
There was a moment halfway through where Hakakian's descriptive power swept like a torrent-- a beautiful to watch, mesmerizing flow-- over the pages and I sat in one place and finished the book. Until that point I was pretty doubtful: The cliched title and the affectation of childhood innocence the author seemed to press into her narration made me distrust its intent and dislike the author-as-character. She builds for far too long the lead-up to the Iranian Revolution. It becomes tedious when sh ...more
Nov 29, 2008 Mehrnaz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are a westerner who is a little bored with his or her routine and marvelously comfortable life looking for "exotic" things to happen right in front of his/her eyes; this book is NOT for you.

If you are interested in history unfolding itself with its tiniest details to leave you awestruck with an array of incredible events so that you feel a little of emotion in your otherwise numb emotional system; this book is NOT for you.

If you easily get bored by people talking about their real feelings
Jan 15, 2009 Megan rated it it was amazing
This is similar to "Reading Lolita in Tehran" but the author is Jewish, which makes her an outsider during the 1979 revolution when she is 12 years old. She is able to bring me right into her house as she listens to her cousin talk on the phone, discovers the limitations imposed on her because she is a girl, and investigates what is happening in her country when no adults will give her a straight answer. My heart aches for her family and her neighbor's family as she describes the challenges they ...more
Feb 22, 2015 Owlseyes marked it as to-read

Her ancestry may be traced back to Iranian Jews. She’s living in the east coast of the USA.

It seems that 3 motives made Roya to write this book, according to what she said in a meeting with Persian writers; most of them living in foreign lands.

(1) She got offended when someone asked her: “are there Jews in Iran?”. She argued that Jews presence in Iran “predates “the Muslims'.

(2) She had to say something about women’s situation in Iran; apparently with “no-voice…and subdued”; Roya thinks “that
Again, not what I thought it would be. I'm not yet sure I'm even going to finish it because I keep waiting for something to happen... more details about the revolution or more depth into its impact. I don't know if it's her writing style, or if it's because she was a child that it's consequently egocentric, but as I'm reading it, I'm sort of thinking "so what?" It's a little boring I guess. The title suggests more would be happening 3/4 of the way through the book.

Update: so I did finish it, and
Jan 14, 2013 Sassan rated it it was amazing
Roya Hakakian is a tremendous writer and in the "Journey from the Land of No", Roya beautifully brings forth her personal experience growing up in Iran during the horrendous events of the revolution and its aftermath. Roya is more than a writer, she is a poet. And in this work she exemplifies this and writes so beautifully and elegantly. I highly recommend this book for those wanting to understand the events that led to the revolution and the horrendous aftermath that resulted. Roya beautifully ...more
Peta Brettig
Dec 26, 2012 Peta Brettig rated it liked it
While I enjoyed reading about Roya's childhood in Iran, the story left me wanting more facts and history. The book left me feeling very grateful to have grown up in Australia! Another example of women being treated as second class citizens, and also the segregation that religion can cause. Interesting read but I would have enjoyed it more if there was a bit more history and explanation of what was happening at the time.
Oct 19, 2014 Natasha rated it it was amazing
A beautiful testament to what it means to be Iranian-- not just in appearance or citizenship, but in the soul. It's a remarkable story of a girl becoming a woman in tragic circumstances and gaining a wisdom, poise, and spirit beyond her years. It's a story that bears witness to the transformations of a society, of its people, of its hopes, and of its fears. It's indeed a journey, and one whose memories will not fade but burn ever brighter in their remembrance.
Dec 07, 2014 Stacey rated it it was amazing
This book is an amazing inner look into a young Iranian girl in the era of the Ayatollah. Witty and in depth, this is a must-read for anyone, especially if you remember the late 70's, early 80's.
Jan 16, 2010 Caroline rated it liked it
As a young student in America, Roya Hakakian observed the skewed perception Americans had of Iranians. At first, she laughed at assumptions of a Bedouin upbringing where camels were used for transportation, but soon, she grew frustrated with the inability of her peers to understand the Iran she loved. During the summer of 1999 while working as a reporter, she received a phone call from a New York Times journalist who wished to hear her perspective on the political situation in Iran. Begrudgingly ...more
Oct 06, 2009 Patrick rated it really liked it
A poetically written piece of work about Roya's coming-of-age in Revolutionary Iran. It chronicles Roya's adolescent experience within the Shah's oppressive regime and the way it denied Iranian civil liberties/freedom of expression, to its downfall by Agha and the subsequent celebration, to the even more oppressive theocratic regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Theocratic regimes are the worst regimes because not only is it dictatorial but it makes religion compulsory, so the only outlet to ...more
Feb 15, 2014 Jendimmick rated it liked it
Roya Hakakian's memoir sheds light on the experience of a little known population of Jews in Tehran during the time of the revolution agains the Shah and the ultimate installation of the Ayatollah. Roya's coming-of-age was unique, even from that of many of her peers in Iran, due to her minority heritage and faith. It is fascinating to learn about the time before the revolution, when her tightly knit community coexisted peacefully and respectfully with its Muslim neighbors, and all the more poign ...more
Maha Balouch
Jun 20, 2012 Maha Balouch rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
This is a well-written autobiography of a Jewish girl caught in the midst of revolutionary Iran. The author starts off by writing about her home life and her respect and attitude towards the Jews and Muslims that live in her community.
When the person they call "Agha" starts sending tapes over to direct the Iranians against their King in power, a serious turn of events causes the author and her family to remain cautious.
When the Agha finally does make it into Iran, he makes changes severe enoug
Oct 31, 2014 anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great little book that can be read as a companion to marjane satrapi's Persepolis. Besides the lack of graphics the difference is that Hakakian tells the story of the revolution through the eyes of the Jewish population of Iran. She also talks about the resistance movement, the tortured, censorship; she also shows how the Jewish community begins to disintegrate after the execution of the Jewish industrialist/philanthropist who started plasco. Otherwise this is a good refresher course on the ru ...more
Aug 27, 2007 Catherine rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in learning a little bit about history from a 1st person POV
Shelves: alreadyread
Ethnic studies taught me that no history can be truly understood without hearing the voices of the people who lived it, in their own words. The story of Roya Hakakian's journey as a young Iranian girl growing up in the streets of Tehran is a compelling argument for the first person perspective. I have read many histories on the Middle East and its various successes and crises -- but they are usually from either a (1) mea-culpa-like, hand-wringing, the U.S. is the source of all bad things POV or ...more
Aug 12, 2011 Margaret added it
Shelves: 2005
I found this book very interesting - I had some knowledge about what has happened in Iran, but very little about Jews living in Iran. I found her writing style very "airy" (some have called it "lyrical") - her background in poetry shows. I sometimes felt like her expression of her emotions in reaction to events in the book was really the tip of the iceberg in terms of what she was feeling - I got the intensity of what she felt more from reading of her resulting actions rather than the descriptio ...more
May 31, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it
This was a beautifully written book about one girl's experience of the 1979 revolution in Iran. It is so hard to imagine living in these kinds of circumstances, rulers being overthrown & such strict laws. It was so interesting to learn about the Jewish perspective of this time period -- I had no idea they were persecuted & treated so horribly by their fellow countrymen. I loved seeing those few shining moments when Roya was encouraged and as she developed her talents.

My only complaint a
Jul 02, 2009 Denise rated it liked it
Interesting book. I had no idea that there was a very large Jewish population in Iran. This book is the view of the revolution of 1979 from the viewpoint of a young Jewish girl. She was very caught up in the revolution and welcomed the Ayatollah Khomeni along with the rest of the country. Freedoms may have been restricted under the shah, but nothing like what happened when the Ayatollah took power! It's an interesting look at how freedoms can be slowly taken away and you don't really notice unti ...more
Jun 27, 2009 S rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book and am suprised I had not heard more about it. Written by an Iranian Jewish woman who was about my age during the Islamic Revolution of Iran but was much more aware of what was actully going on in the streets not only because she comes from a pretty intellectual family, runs around with friends that are from Islamic families and talked about what was going on but she was acutely aware because of the intervention in her all Jewish school by the Islamic Republic.

Roya Hak
Jul 01, 2008 J B rated it it was amazing
Even though I've recently been immersed in tales of the Muslim world, both inside America and out, I was moved by this book. It's about the experiences of a Jewish woman living in Iran before, during, and after the revolution that brought the Shah to power in the 70s. It's very interesting to learn about the progressive country that was Iran before things changed. I found this book because the author recently wrote an article about the persecution of Baha'is that is ongoing in Iran today. She's ...more
Jul 08, 2009 David rated it really liked it
Roya Hakakian is a Jewish-Iranian from a family that lived in Iran during the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Her first person account of life before, during and after the Revolution is revealing, if not typical. Her family's religion made them marginal in Iranian society to begin with. The Revolution simply complicated matters that much more. Great insight for readers who don't know much about Iran and wish to begin to understand that country as it continues to play an important role in world affai ...more
Sep 29, 2007 John rated it liked it
Shelves: bio-and-memoir
I confess I was slightly bored by the first half of the story: pre-teen Jewish girl's life in pre-Revolutionary Tehran; that section does make a point that opposition to the Shah was widespread, far from just a radical Moslem "thing". Second part (post-Revolution) is much stronger, though the story ends as the family makes the final decision to emigrate, with a "teaser" that the story of their journey might be forthcoming as a sequel; there is an epilogue telling of the "fate" of most of the mai ...more
Jul 22, 2012 Nicole rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-biography
This insightful memoir revealed what it was like to grow up Jewish in Iran in the 70s and early 80s. I learned a lot about the history of Iran during this time period, and I cannot imagine what it was like to be Jewish during this time. However, Roya does an excellent job of showing the reader the contrast between pre-revolutionary Iran and post-revolutionary Iran. As readers, we witness the depersonalizing effects of the Ayatollah's regime through many personal encounters that Roya has with fam ...more
Jul 01, 2012 Ang rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book a lot. Really teaches about her history, and what loosing freedoms will lead to. I am not much of a poetic / artsy type, this author is. I am sure there is an audience that loves this style. However I felt a bit frustrated because I wanted more details and info- to learn from, there seems to be so much more she could have written in place of the poetic pieces that were likely more from her dreams, thoughts and feelings. I might sound a bit cold, since I did not appreciate her ...more
Aug 26, 2008 A. rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone, esp. young women
This book is an exceptional memoir in Hakakian's depiction of her revolutionary Tehran, which makes her into a foreigner in her own home. Her experience/observations as a woman and as a Jew, though traumatic, are expressed with grace, the innocence of youth and amazing metaphors. I was however, disappointed with the abrupt wrap-up at the end between leaving Tehran and developing life here in CA, USA. She sort of leaves you hungry for the remainder of the story.
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Roya Hakakian (Persian: رویا حکاکیان) (born 1966 in Iran) 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, Roya became well known for her memoir, Journey from the Land of No in 2004 and essays on Iranian issues in the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and on NPR ...more
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