Baraheni was born in Tabriz, Iran in 1935 and now lives in Canada where he is a visiting professor at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Comparative Literature and past president of PEN Canada from June 2001-June 2003. He was also the Hart House Review's feature writer (poetry) for its 2007 edition when the magazine decided to go with a theme on exiled writers/artists.
He is the author of more than fifty books in Persian and English and his works have been translated into a dozen other languages. Moreover, he has translated into Persian works by Shakespeare, Kundera, Mandelstam, Andric, and Fanon.
His most famous work is The Crowned Cannibals: Writings on Repression in Iran, which recounts his days in prison against the Shah of Iran.
In 1973, he was arrested and imprisoned in Teheran and spent 102 days in solitary confinement. In 1982, he was expelled from the University of Tehran and deprived of the right to work. Baraheni was granted political asylum by the Canadian government in 1996.