Roya Hakakian is a writer and journalist. Her first book, a volume of selected poems in Persian called For the Sake of Water, is listed among the leading works of contemporary Persian poetry in the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World. Her poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies, including Strange Times My Dear: The PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature.
She is also the author of three works of prose in English. Her memoir of coming of age in post-revolutionary Iran, Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran, 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 Elle Magazine‘s Best Nonfiction Book of 2004. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction in 2008 for her second book, The Assassins of the Turquoise Palace, which was named a Notable Book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review. Her most recent work, A Beginner’s Guide to America for the Immigrant and the Curious, was published by Knopf in 2021 and was among the Best Books of the Month by The Wall Street Journal. She has also collaborated with leading journalism units on network television, including CBS 60 Minutes.
Her essays appear in many publications, including The Atlantic. She’s a member of the editorial board of The American Purpose. As a public speaker, she has made countless appearances from offering testimonies at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee to high schools on native American reservations in Montana. She is a founding member of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center and is a fellow at Yale University’s Davenport College.
Born and raised in a family of Jewish educators in Tehran, Hakakian arrived as a refugee to the United States in 1985.