Wednesday, November 20, 2019

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

Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

She really is funny. Regardless that Firoozeh (Julie, for a very short time) is telling about her immigrant life from Iran, I recognized so very much of my own childhood in Firoozeh's. Although there are memoirs of immigrants that have suffered as outsiders, Firoozeh finds the humor in it. I found myself laughing out loud and then reading to my family or retelling a story. It is so hilarious. I think I am absolutely in love with Firoozeh's father.

Before the Iranian Hostage Crisis, what did Americans know about Persia? Nothing, really. Maybe we heard there was oil somewhere there. Had I seen Firoozeh at school, I would have agreed with her assessment. She looks ethnic. But indeterminately so in the early 1970s. Okay, actually, I still think I wouldn't have been able to place her ethnicity even today. But imagine being new to a country from a country that nobody has heard of. Then getting lost at Disneyland. Or deciding your name is just too difficult and announcing to your mocking family that you are changing your name to something American. The introduction to that chapter had me in absolute hysterical fits of laughter, by the way.

The best paragraph is in the chapter where she discovers that her father is going to go to the Very Bad Place because, as a Muslim (secular, but still), ham is forbidden and her father loves ham. His words to her are so poignant and so universal, I printed them out and hung them in my office. It is apparent that Firoozeh lives the philosophy he taught her that day. The essence (since I am not in my office right now) is that what we eat, who and how we worship, our skin color, or whatever the world defines as making us different is irrelevent to God. He sees us for who we are and how we treat one another. Amen.

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