Funny in Farsi

Dumas, Firoozeh (2003). New York,:Random House. ISBN-10: 1400060400/ ISBN-13: 978-1400060405

Firoozeh Dumas writes a comic memoir of her family’s move from Iran to Whittier, California in the 1970’s. When her father’s visit as a petroleum engineer ends, they move back to the US for good. Though the Iranian Revolution and the hostage situation changes the attitudes of some Americans toward Iranians and has an adverse effect on her father’s income, the tone of the book is positive and patriotic. The chapters are separate comic vignettes centered around events or foibles of her family, including the French family she marries into after meeting husband Francois at Berkeley. Her parents’ poor English and her fathers’ many relatives are favorite targets for humor

Reader’s Annotation
In a memoir that reads like something from an earlier generation of immigrant humor, Firoozeh Dumas reminisces about her family’s experiences as Iranian transplants in the 1970’s America of The Brady Bunch.

The school where I teach is not diverse; it’s divided--between Anglos and Latinos. We are considering doing a school-wide Big Read—I wanted a book which would develop empathy for the immigrant experience in a way that would transcend the ethnic identities involved in our school. After reading about Funny in Farsi and meeting Ms. Dumas at a CATE conference, I even hoped this goal could be accomplished with humor and joy. I was very sad, therefore, when I could not warm to this book. It felt very old-fashioned to me, like one of those 1950’s pieces of Jewish humor where the laughs come from the thick accents of the characters. All the family members, even though her love for them was conveyed, were reduced to comic stick figures, and her jokes—the punny chapter titles, for example, are just lame. The best parts were the descriptions of Iranian cooking.

About the author
Firoozeh Dumas went to Cal, is married to a Frenchman, and has several children. She has written another comic memoir about being Iranian, and attends many conferences where she can present her books. I’m going to take this down right after the assignment, in case she googles her own name, because she seemed very nice.

Humorous memoirs

Curriculum Ties
Recreational. Maybe could use excerpts as part of English or Social Studies Units.

Booktalking Ideas
has life in America changed for new immigrants since the years depicted in this book?
How does Firoozeh’s large, close family compare to families we are familiar with?
Describe her family’s experience with American food.

Reading Level/Interest Age

Challenge Issues

Why Included?
Searching for a Big Read book; CATE presentation

Selection Tools
SLJ review available at

No comments:

Post a Comment