ROYA HAKAKIAN has collaborated on over a dozen hours of programming for leading journalism units on network television, including CBS 60 Minutes and ABC Documentary Specials with the late Peter Jennings.
Roya is the author of two collections of poems in Persian and is listed among the leading voices of contemporary Persian poetry in the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World. Her poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies around the world, including Strange Times My Dear: The Pen Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature. She contributes to the Persian Literary Review, and served as the poetry editor of Par Magazine for six years. Her opinion columns, essays, and book reviews appear in English language publications, and she has lately been contributing to the Atlantic.
Roya has also appeared on all the principal networks and radios, including CNN, MSNBC and NPR. She’s served on the editorial board of World Affairs Journal and the American Purpose. She has made countless public appearances from offering testimonies at the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee to high schools on native American reservations in Montana. Her work mostly centers around the issues of human rights, social justice, and the conditions of minorities and women throughout the Middle East, especially Iran. She is a founding member of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, and has served on several non-profit boards, including Refugees International.
She is a fellow at Yale University’s Davenport College and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. 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, 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. Roya is also a recipient of the 2008 Guggenheim fellowship in nonfiction.
Her second nonfiction book, the Assassins of the Turquoise Palace (Grove/Atlantic)about Iran’s terror campaign against exiled Iranian dissidents in Western Europe, was named a Notable Book of 2011 by the New York Times Book Review and made Newsweek’s Top Ten Not-to-be-missed books of 2011 and was among Kirkus Reviews Best Non-Fictions of the year. Her most recent work, A Beginner’s Guide to America for the Immigrant and the Curious was published by Knopf in 2021.
Born and raised in a family of Jewish educators in Tehran, Roya arrived as a refugee to the US in 1985.
She received her bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College, where she also studied poetry with the late great Allen Ginsburg.