Emami was born in 1930 in Calcutta, a frequent destination of his father, a tea merchant. He learned his first English words from his father and returned to Shiraz in Iran when he was two years old.
Emami studied English literature at University of Tehran and at the University of Minnesota. He became a journalist in the early 1950s for the English language Tehran daily Keyhan International. During the 1960s, he translated contemporary Persian poetry into English. In 1967, he was named editor in chief at Franklin Books, where he was instrumental in the publication of quality books and training younger writers and editors. He also founded Soroush Press, the publishing arm of National Iranian Radio and Television, and established the Zamineh bookstore in Tehran, a meeting place for writers, intellectuals, and book lovers.
In the final decade of his life he was an active contributor to Motarjem, an Iranian quarterly dedicated to the translation and translators. He was responsible for Kargahe Tarjome (translation workshops) section of the magazine.He died of leukemia in Tehran.( July 9, 2005)