Dorothy's Reviews > Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America

Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas
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Jan 08, 2011

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bookshelves: memoirs-and-biographies, humor
Read from January 08 to 10, 2011

When I mentioned to my daughter the librarian that I needed something light to read after some of my recent reading, she recommended Firoozeh Dumas' Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America. Ms. Dumas had attended a Houston Library event within the past year and my daughter just happened to have an autographed copy of the book that she would lend me. She guaranteed that it would make me laugh.

It did make me smile, chuckle, and once or twice even laugh out loud. It is a charming memoir of Ms. Dumas' family's coming to America a few years before the Iranian Revolution and the taking of the American hostages in Tehran. Her father, an engineer, was the family pioneer who had been to this country before as a college student on a Fulbright Scholarship. He loved the country and wanted to come back and eventually he did, bringing his family with him. They found a welcome here, even though they learned that most Americans did not seem to know what or where Iran was and seemed to not have a clue as to how to pronounce the country's name. Honestly, what is so difficult about ear-rahn? One has to suspect that the mispronunciation is a deliberate insult. But perhaps it isn't. The ignorance of people can be truly astounding.

And that was one of the things about this book which didn't make me smile or chuckle at all. Again and again, the anecdotes that the writer tells reveal Americans' appalling ignorance about the world and their gross provincialism. This does not at all seem to be the aim or point of her stories which are always told with love and humor, but I couldn't help focusing on those aspects nevertheless. Perhaps my point of view was colored by my concern about the poor quality of the education that so many American children receive. Living in Texas where our Board (or is that Bored?) of Education insists that all textbooks be put to a political litmus test has perhaps made me overly sensitive to this issue.

At any rate, the family came to America and were busily living the American dream when the revolution came and changed everything. They went overnight from being honored guests to pariahs. Her father lost his job and the family endured some lean times before the hostage crisis ended and things began to return to normal.

But this is a family of high achievers, like so many immigrant families, and nothing could keep them down for long. In the end, most of the extended family that had remained in Iran joined the author and her parents and brothers in this country, and judging by these warm and wonderful stories, our country is much the richer for their presence here.
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06/09/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Snap (new)

Snap Dorothy,

I laughed out loud when I read your comment about the Board (Bored) of education. A Big AMEN!!!!!


Dorothy Yes, our "Bored" of Education is pretty laughable...


message 3: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol Neman Thanks, Dorothy, for such a lengthy and informative review...I do, indeed, want to read this book now. Oooh, so many books, so little time...I just gotta retire so I have more time to read.


Dorothy Retirement definitely helps, Carol. I highly recommend it!


message 5: by D and Hambone (new)

D and Hambone Spot-on review.


message 6: by Reza (new) - added it

Reza Khezrian Dorothy you sure wrote a positive review of "funny in Farsi" and thanks for that! I suspect you deliberately avoided writing anything negative you might have encountered to encourage others to read the book which makes me even more eager to read it as soon as I get it an any format.
I just wish to find out who has done better: Mrs. Dumas in her book or you in your generous review :)
Take care


Dorothy Reza wrote: "Dorothy you sure wrote a positive review of "funny in Farsi" and thanks for that! I suspect you deliberately avoided writing anything negative you might have encountered to encourage others to read..."

I always try to be honest in my reviews and I did so in this case, as well. It is a charming and often funny book, but with some sobering moments when the family encounters American ignorance about who, where, and what Iran is. Unfortunately, i don't think that ignorance has improved much in the last almost five years.


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