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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were by the food service in first class. My father did admit, though, that he felt ill after the flight. “I ate nonstop,” he said. When my parents returned from their trip, they presented me with, among other gifts, fourteen mini jars of jam. “What are these from?” I asked. “Breakfast in the airplane,” my mother replied. “We each got two jars.” “What about the other ten jars?” I asked, not wanting to know the answer. “Those are from the other passengers who didn’t want theirs.” I envisioned

a tiny garden, they have managed to cultivate an enviable cornucopia of figs, pomegranates, sweet lemons, and herbs. My aunt is still a wonderful cook and no visit to Southern California would ever be complete without her lentil saffron rice, her eggplant stew with beef shank, or her signature oven-cooked salmon stuffed with homegrown herbs. My sweet ameh still delivers her kind compliments, but nowadays she tells me what a good mother I am, and I tell her what a compliment that is coming from

religion. We learned not only about Islam but also about Judaism, Christianity, and Buddhism. We were taught to practice Islam, but to respect all religions. Knowledge of Islam was mandatory for all Muslim students; its practice was not. The Christian and Jewish children at my school were exempt from religious studies, a fact that caused much envy among the rest of us. When we moved to America, I discovered that school was much more fun here. There was less homework, no endless math drills, and

Christmas cookies. What’s Christmas without bourbon balls, gingerbread, and fudge? I’m not sure which I enjoy more, the flavors or the smells, but either way, they remind me of the excitement of Nowruz. My Christmas kitchen smells of ginger, chocolate, and cinnamon. In my childhood kitchen, Nowruz smelled of cardamom, roasted pistachios, and rose water. And in every Iranian living room, the sweet scent of hyacinths trumpeted the arrival of Nowruz and the beginning of spring. In America, our

has achieved its objective? Explain. Here’s a preview of Firoozeh Dumas’s Laughing Without an Accent: Adventures of a Global Citizen Eight Days a Week When I met my first teacher in America, Mrs. Sandberg, I was so confused. She was so nice. Her classroom was unlike anything I had ever seen—colorful posters on the walls, children’s artwork hanging from the ceiling; it was like a party. Mrs. Sandberg never yelled, assigned homework, or even lost her temper, but she knew how to

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