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FUNNY IN FARSI by Firoozeh Dumas

FUNNY IN FARSI

A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America

By Firoozeh Dumas

Pub Date: June 24th, 2003
ISBN: 1-4000-6040-0
Publisher: Villard

Light-as-air essays about an immigrant childhood in California.

In 1972, Dumas’s father, an employee of the Iranian National Oil Company, which had landed a two-year consulting contract with an American firm, came to the US and brought along the entire family. Although the adventure in their new country begins with the author and her mother getting lost after elementary-school orientation, the Dumases rapidly embrace their new home: Las Vegas becomes their default vacation destination, and they spend every Christmas watching Bob Hope. The author has the usual problems of a stranger in a strange land—nobody can pronounce her name or has any awareness of her homeland—but Dumas tosses in some new ones as well: the communal showers at sleep-away camp (she doesn’t bathe for a week) and the disappointment when her father fails to qualify as a contestant on Bowling for Dollars. But these trials pale in comparison to the family’s difficulties during the hostage crisis. As vendors begin selling T-shirts that read “Iranians go Home,” Dumas’s father loses his job and his pension and is forced to sell all the family's belongings. After the crisis ends, he does find a new job, at half his previous salary, but nothing mars his love for his adopted country; Dumas recounts his thoughts on US citizens who shirk their civic duties: “They need to be sent for six months to a nondemocratic country. Then they'll vote.” At all times, no matter how heavy the subject matter, Dumas keeps her tone light. Even a disastrous trip to Washington, D.C., to welcome the Shah, complete with death threats from protestors, is played for laughs.

Warm and engaging, despite some creaky prose.