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

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

by Roya Hakakian

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.

Together as girls we found the courage we had been told was not in us.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 girls attempt to ï?nd 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.

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 swastikaa plus sign gone awry, a dark reptile with four hungry clawspainted on the wall near her home.

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.

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.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Cultural
  • Rating: 3.71
  • Pages: 256
  • Publish Date: June 28th 2005 by Three Rivers Press
  • Isbn10: 0609810308
  • Isbn13: 9780609810309

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Hakakian's book is a vividly and wonderfully remembered account of her coming of age in these tumultuous years.

Like Ms. Hakakian and the protesters currently struggling for democracy in Iran, I hope to live to someday see a free, democratic Iran (and, hopefully, Iraq - but that's another story).

She is an Iranian Jew who emigrated from Iran with her family several years after the Ayatollah Khomeini came into power. And I would read my way out to them." Despite the rather grim historical setting of this book, Hakakian's story still contains humour, lightness, tenderness and love.

Her ancestry may be traced back to Iranian Jews.

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. And then the Iranian Revolution hit and Hakakian's power poured onto the pages. I often read memoirs of great women revolutionaries, and I think part of my early disappointment with this story was its lack of clear motive, with her young self a mild rebel without a sure cause, confused by the rapid changes and the conflicting complacencies and passions of her Jewish family and those of her Muslim and activist friends. What Hakakian shows is the incomprehensible variability between tiny actions and the convictions behind them, their consequences on the revolution, and the counter-revolutionary repression with which they are met.

If you easily get bored by people talking about their real feelings after you just asked them how they were, and if you cannot bear to follow any monologue unless it initially or eventually somehow trails back to you or your ways of life; this book is NOT for you.

My heart goes out to all the wonderful friends Roya had in Iran.

I'm not yet sure I'm even going to finish it because I keep waiting for something to happen...

Roya Hakakian (Persian: ) (born 1966 in Iran) is an Iranian-American poet, journalist and writer living in the United States.