Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas. ★★★★
Funny in Farsi is a memoir by a woman who grew up in both Iran and the United States. Her family moved to the United States in 1972, when Firoozeh Dumas was seven years old. Neither she or her mother spoke any English, although her father had some experience with the country from graduate school. After two years, they moved back to Iran, but later returned to the United States. More family members followed until almost all of the family was living in California. Funny in Farsi is a collection of antecedents and stories about Firoozeh Dumas’s life and family.
The best thing about Funny in Farsi is that true to the title, it’s hilarious. I was laughing out loud at many parts and got some strange looks from people around me. One of my favorite parts was the chapter where she talked about her uncle, who was visiting them from Iran. While in America, he developed a taste for fast food. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it wasn’t too long before the clothes he brought with him no longer fit. When it became time for him to go back to Iran, he decided to lose weight. His method? Call the numbers on TV adds promising quick weight loss. This resulted in him being sent a full body reflective suit which he was supposed to wear before meals. He decided that it would be far more effective to wear the suit all day long.
While most of the book is funny, there are a few more sobering sections, mostly relating to the Iranian Revolution. When her family first came to the United States, she found Americans overwhelmingly friendly and welcoming. Then the hostage crisis happened. Overnight, her father lost his job and anti-Iranian bumper stickers began appearing.
“Throughout his job ordeal, my father never complained. He remained an Iranian who loved his native country but who also believed in American ideals. He only said how sad it was that people so easily hate an entire population simply because of the actions of a few. And what a waste it is to hate, he always said. What a waste.”
Firoozeh Dumas’s warmth and humor shine on every page of Funny in Farsi. I loved reading it and would highly recommend it.