Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America

Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America

Firoozeh Dumas

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 0812968379

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Finalist for the PEN/USA Award in Creative Nonfiction, the Thurber Prize for American Humor, and the Audie Award in Biography/Memoir

This Random House Reader’s Circle edition includes a reading group guide and a conversation between Firoozeh Dumas and Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner!

“Remarkable . . . told with wry humor shorn of sentimentality . . . In the end, what sticks with the reader is an exuberant immigrant embrace of America.”—San Francisco Chronicle

In 1972, when she was seven, Firoozeh Dumas and her family moved from Iran to Southern California, arriving with no firsthand knowledge of this country beyond her father’s glowing memories of his graduate school years here. More family soon followed, and the clan has been here ever since.

Funny in Farsi chronicles the American journey of Dumas’s wonderfully engaging family: her engineer father, a sweetly quixotic dreamer who first sought riches on Bowling for Dollars and in Las Vegas, and later lost his job during the Iranian revolution; her elegant mother, who never fully mastered English (nor cared to); her uncle, who combated the effects of American fast food with an army of miraculous American weight-loss gadgets; and Firoozeh herself, who as a girl changed her name to Julie, and who encountered a second wave of culture shock when she met and married a Frenchman, becoming part of a one-couple melting pot.

In a series of deftly drawn scenes, we watch the family grapple with American English (hot dogs and hush puppies?—a complete mystery), American traditions (Thanksgiving turkey?—an even greater mystery, since it tastes like nothing), and American culture (Firoozeh’s parents laugh uproariously at Bob Hope on television, although they don’t get the jokes even when she translates them into Farsi).

Above all, this is an unforgettable story of identity, discovery, and the power of family love. It is a book that will leave us all laughing—without an accent.

Praise for Funny in Farsi
 
“Heartfelt and hilarious—in any language.”Glamour
 
“A joyful success.”Newsday
 
“What’s charming beyond the humor of this memoir is that it remains affectionate even in the weakest, most tenuous moments for the culture. It’s the brilliance of true sophistication at work.”Los Angeles Times Book Review
 
“Often hilarious, always interesting . . . Like the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, this book describes with humor the intersection and overlapping of two cultures.”The Providence Journal
 
“A humorous and introspective chronicle of a life filled with love—of family, country, and heritage.”—Jimmy Carter
 
“Delightfully refreshing.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
 
“[Funny in Farsi] brings us closer to discovering what it means to be an American.”San Jose Mercury News

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Talk to You Because I Cannot Possibly Learn Your Name and I Just Don’t Want to Have to Ask You Again and Again Because You’ll Think I’m Dumb or You Might Get Upset or Something.” My father, incidentally, had wanted to name me Sara. I do wish he had won that argument. To strengthen my decision to add an American name, I had just finished fifth grade in Whittier, where all the kids incessantly called me “Ferocious.” That summer, my family moved to Newport Beach, where I looked forward to starting

class gets detention. For my father to be treated like a second-class citizen truly stung. If there were ever a poster child for immigration, it would be Kazem. Perhaps nothing speaks louder than his obsession with voting. When I became an American citizen, in college, my father called to ask whether I was planning to vote in the upcoming election. “If I have time,” I answered. My father then told me that perhaps I did not deserve to be a citizen. Any immigrant who comes to this country and

famous clothing designer, was looking for someone to clean her silverware. This job paid six dollars per hour. Chris also told me that this woman, whom I will call Mrs. Cheapo to protect her anonymity, had estimated that this was at least a twenty-dollar job. I rode my bike to her house, arriving promptly at eight on a sunny Saturday morning. Mrs. Cheapo led me to her dining room table, where she had a heap of silverware stacked three feet high. Judging by the black tarnish, people were still

normally do not read loved reading Funny in Farsi. That makes my day every time. Adult readers tend to invite me to their home. I get a lot of “If you are ever in the Saint Louis area, our spare bedroom is yours!” It’s very, very sweet. KH: What are you working on now? FD: I just wrote a piece for the New York Times humor section, and I’ve been editing a book for UC Berkeley’s International House about the effects of September 11 on ten individuals. Truth is, I am itching to write my next

flooded back to me. And every time I finished a story, another popped up in its place. It was like using a vending machine: the candy falls down and is immediately replaced by another. KH: On the surface, at least, there is very little about politics in your book. Why is that? FD: One of the biggest problems I have faced as an Iranian in America is that no one knows much about Iran except what is on the evening news. Politics has grossly overshadowed humanity in the Middle East and I wanted

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