Journey from the Land of No

Sunday, August 22, 2004
Time: 12:00 AM
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Journey from the Land of No by Roya Hakakian



Sunday, August 22st Honesdale, Pensylvania
Book Tour

Place:
Hillel's Charles Schusterman International Student Leaders Assembly
Camp Moshava, Honesdale, PA
(Details to be announced)



http://www.royahakakian.com/
Introduction

Roya Hakakian was twelve years old in 1979 when the revolution swept through Tehran. The daughter of an esteemed poet and teacher, Roya grew up in household that hummed with intellectual life. Her older brother, Albert, drew cartoons for a satirical magazine that would be banned under the new regime. Another brother, Javid, shared the magic of poetry, and secretly read to her from a celebrated children’s book, The Little Black Fish, an allegory about a stubborn young fish that defies its elders by swimming out to sea. Roya eventually learns that the book’s author was killed by SAVAK, the Shah’s secret police, and his message about the price of freedom and independence become a guiding force in her life. Her memoir, Journey From the Land of No, is a lyrical and beautifully written coming-of-age story about one young, deeply intelligent and perceptive girl’s attempt to find an authentic voice of her own at a time of cultural closing and repression.
Hakakian also tells the vivid story of what it was like to grow up Jewish in Iran on the brink of the revolution. She writes about discovering a swastika painted on the wall of her peaceful alley, and standing by as her classmates were escorted from school by Islamic Morality Guards, accused of reading blasphemous books, never to return to class. It was only later that Roya learned from her Persian Cosmopolitan teacher – the school administrator’s spy – that the reason she was spared was because the teacher admired her writing.
Here, twenty years after finally emigrating from Iran with her parents, Hakakian recounts some of the best known “urban legends” of the Iranian culture and revolution, but she does so in a domestic setting, in the powerful and distinctive voice of a young girl observing the life around her the way a poet or an artist would. One of her favorite activities as a teenager was the weekly hike that members of the Jewish Iranian Students Organization made at sunrise up the majestic, snowcapped Alborz mountains to laugh, enjoy each other’s company, and declaim poetry. Until one Friday when the group is stopped by young guards armed with Kalashnikov’s who had closed the mountain citing the “needs of the revolution,” and proceeded to detain the entire group and strip-search the women.
Throughout the book we witness fascinating courtship rituals as they unfold in Roya’s home, featuring eccentric uncles, aunts, brothers and friends. We experience 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 always we see it through the eyes of a strong, youthful optimist who somehow came up in the world believing that she was different and knowing that she was special.
Journey from the Land of No is a wonderfully evocative story that reveals an Iran that most readers have not encountered, and marks the debut of a stunning new talent

Reviewed/approved by talieshah -.

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