JOURNEY FROM THE LAND OF NO: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran
Political upheavals like the fall of the Shah of Iran and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism may be analyzed endlessly by scholars, but eyewitness accounts like Hakakian's help us understand what it was like to experience such a revolution firsthand. The documentary filmmaker and poet was born to a prominent Tehran Jewish family in 1966, two years after the Shah had exiled Islamic fundamentalist leader Ayatollah Khomeini. As Jews in a largely Muslim world, the family knew how to live respectfully with their neighbors. With powerful illustrations, Hakakian relates how, in 1979, when the Shah fled and Khomeini returned triumphant, she joined the cheering crowds. Khomeini's revolution seemed liberating, but before long, the grip of the Islamic extremists tightened. Women were put under strict surveillance; books and speech were censored. Anti-Jewish graffiti appeared. As the targeting became more visible—being made to use separate toilets and drinking fountains, being required to identify their businesses as non-Muslim—many Jews emigrated. After Hakakian describes the teacher who risked her job to give her high marks on a "subversive" paper or grips readers with the tale of how she and her teen buddies barely evaded the morality police, readers just want her to leave, too, which her family did, in 1984. Hakakian's story—so reminiscent of the experiences of Jews in Nazi Germany—is haunting. Maps. Agent, Flip Brophy. (Aug.)
Forecast: An author tour, regional NPR campaign and Hakakian's media connections will help sales, but the real kicker will be Hakakian's appearance at Jewish book fairs this fall.
Release date: 06/01/2004