Roya Hakakian was born in 1966 in Iran and is an Iranian-American poet, journalist and writer living in the United States. Born and raised in a Persian Jewish family in Tehran, Hakakian lived through the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and actively supported it along with other liberals. As the Iran-Iraq war raged and restrictive laws became more common, she immigrated unwillingly to the United States in May 1985 on political asylum. Settling in the New York area, she studied psychology at Brooklyn College and went on to earn a Master of Social Work at Hunter College.
A lauded Persian poet turned television producer with programs like 60 Minutes, Hakakian became well known for her memoir, Journey from the Land of No in 2004 which was about growing up a Persian Jewish teenager in revolutionary Iran. Her essays on Iranian issues appear in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and on NPR. She published Assassins of the Turquoise Palace in 2011, a non-fiction account of the Mykonos restaurant assassinations of Iranian opposition leaders in Berlin.
Hakakian was a founding member of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, and serves on the board of Refugees International. Harry Kreisler’s Political Awakenings: Conversations with History highlighted Hakakian among “20 of the most important activists, academics, and journalists of our generation”.