ROYA HAKAKIAN is a writer. Her opinion columns, essays and book reviews appear in English language publications like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and NPR’s All Things Considered among many others. She has collaborated on over a dozen hours of programming for leading journalism units in network television, including CBS 60 Minutes. She currently serves as an editorial board member of World Affairs. An active thinker of foreign relations, Roya is a founding member of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center. She has been featured in the Washington Post and the US News and World Report, among other publications. In the book, Political Awakenings by University of California at Berkeley’s Professor Harry Kreisler, she has been highlighted “among the most important activists, academics, and journalists of her generation.”
Roya is the author of two collections of poetry in Persian, and is 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.
In 2008, she received a Guggenheim prize in nonfiction. It enabled her to complete the work on her most recent book, Assassins of the Turquoise Palace (Grove/Atlantic), about Iran’s terror campaign against exiled dissidents in Western Europe received the Asian American Literary Award for best non-fiction book in 2013. It was named a New York Times Notable Book in 2011, made Newsweek’s Top Ten Not-to-be-missed books and was among Kirkus Reviews Best Non-Fictions in the same year. Her account of the work of the German prosecutor of the case, a modern day Atticus Finch, moved the US Federal Bar Association to establish “the Rule of Law Award,” the first of which was bestowed upon that prosecutor in 2014 at the Daniel Moynihan Federal Courthouse in New York City.
Her memoir of growing up a Jewish teenager in post-revolutionary Iran, Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran (Crown) has been a celebrated Freshman Experience book at a number of colleges in the US. It was a Barnes and 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, and was named Best Memoir by the Connecticut Center for the Book in 2005 and has been translated into several languages including German, Dutch, and Spanish.
She is currently at work on a new book at the The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars where she has been awarded a fellowship in 2014. Talking to her readers is one of her great joys and she has addressed them at venues ranging from high schools on Native American reservations to the US Capitol and the CIA.
Body of Work
Human Rights Activism
Roya was a founding member of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center. IHRDC was founded in 2004 by a group of human right scholars, activists, and historians to document the patterns of human rights abuse in Iran and to promote accountability, a culture of human rights, and the rule of law in Iran. Board members include prominent American legal scholars such as Professors Owen Fiss and John Simon (Yale University), Lawrence Douglas (Amherst College), and Laura Dickenson (Arizona State University), and Roya Hakakian. Gissou Nia is currently the group’s executive director.
Awarded a 2008 Guggenheim fellowship in nonfiction, Roya’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 Sunday Book Review editors choice, a Daily Beast-Newsweek Not To Be Missed Book of 2011, and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.
Her memoir of growing up a Jewish teenager in post-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, and Elle Magazine’s Best Nonfiction Book of 2004. 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.
Roya 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, 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.
Television Production & Documentaries
As a callaborator on over a dozen hours of programming for leading journalism units on network television, Roya worked on 60 Minutes, A&E’s “Travels With Harry”, and ABC Documentary Specials with the late Peter Jennings, Discovery and The Learning Channel. Commissioned by UNICEF, Roya directed a film, Armed and Innocent 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 Daily Beast / Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal among them. She is also a contributor to the Weekend Edition of NPR’s All Things Considered.