Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Review: Funny in Farsi (Firoozeh Dumas)

Title: Funny in Farsi: A memoir of growing up Iranian in America
Author: Firoozeh Dumas
Genre: Non-fiction (memoir)
Pages: 198
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Challenges: PoC
FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library
Summary (from the back of the book): In 1972, when she was seven, the author and her family moved from Iran to Southern California, arriving with no firsthand knowledge of this country beyond Firoozeh's father's glowing memories of his graduate school years in the the States. In a series of deftly drawn scenes, Funny in Farsi chronicles the American journey of Dumas' wonderfully engaging family: her engineer father, a sweetly quixotic dreamer who first sought riches in Bowling for Dollars and in Las Vegas; her elegant mother, who never fully mastered English (or cared to); her uncle, who combated the effects of American fast food with an array 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.

Review: This book made me laugh out loud! That is a good thing and was unexpected. At times it reminded me of Bill Bryson in that the author found pleasure and a good story in the smallest of things, often seeing America in a way that native-born people do not.

What was fun for me is that I am the same age as the author so the events, music, and fads that she talks about are my memories as well. To hear her discuss the Iran Hostage crisis from her perspective was really interesting as I have very strong memories of that time (my freshman into sophomore year in high school).

Although my parents were the immigrants, not me, I also understand what it is like to not totally understand the rituals, customs, food, etc of American society. I liked the stories where Dumas' family just didn't quite get what was going on, especially in school.

Although many of the moments in this book are funny, there are also sad and poignant moments where the reader realizes what it is like for immigrants in America. The ignorance, rudeness, and questions must drive them (the immigrants) crazy. I recommend this book if you are looking for good stories that will put a smile on your face.

Geography Connection

(photo credit for the author photo)

Click to see my updated Google Map. I wasn't really sure what to put as the geography connection for this book. She is Iranian and has some stories set there, but most of it is what it was like to be Iranian in America so I am going with California. Actually, she spent most of her growing up in southern California, which is where I live so I could actually relate to a lot of her stories.

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