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Funny in Farsi
A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America
Written by Firoozeh Dumas

Funny in Farsi
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Category: Biography & Autobiography - Personal Memoirs; Biography & Autobiography - Cultural, Ethnic & Regional - General; Social Science - Emigration & Immigration
Imprint: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Format: Trade Paperback
Pub Date: January 2004
Price: $17.00
Can. Price: $23.00
ISBN: 978-0-8129-6837-8 (0-8129-6837-9)
Pages: 240

Winner, 2008 Spirit of America Award (National Council for the Social Studies)
Finalist, Thurber Prize for American Humor
Finalist, PEN/USA Award in Creative Non-Fiction
Finalist: Audie Award for best recording of a memoir, 2005

Selected for Common Reading
Abilene Christian University
Albuquerque Academy's Year-long Project
Bunker Hill Community College
Gallaudet University
Salisbury University, Maryland
University of Wisconsin, Madison
University of Wisconsin, La Crosse
Cal State University, Sacramento
Cal State University, Bakersfield
Fairmont University, West Virginia
Florida International University, Miami
Nichols College

Bensenville, Illinois–2008
Berkeley Reads–2006
The Big Read: New Hampshire–2010
Brentwood City Read–2009
Cape Ann Community Reads–2006
Carlsbad Reads Together–2009
Lamorinda Reads (CA)–2008
One Book, One Whittier–2005
Orange County Reads One Book–2004
Palo Alto Reads–2006
The Big Read, Dayton, Ohio–2008
Wood Dale and Ithasca (IL)–2008

In 1972, when she was seven, Firoozeh Dumas and her family moved from Iran to Southern California, arriving with no firsthand knowledge of this country beyond her father’ s glowing memories of his graduate school years here. More family soon followed, and the clan has been here ever since.

Funny in Farsi chronicles the American journey of Dumas’s wonderfully engaging family: her engineer father, a sweetly quixotic dreamer who first sought riches on Bowling for Dollars and in Las Vegas, and later lost his job during the Iranian revolution; her elegant mother, who never fully mastered English (nor cared to); her uncle, who combated the effects of American fast food with an army 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.

In a series of deftly drawn scenes, we watch the family grapple with American English (hot dogs and hush puppies?—a complete mystery), American traditions (Thanksgiving turkey?—an even greater mystery, since it tastes like nothing), and American culture (Firoozeh’s parents laugh uproariously at Bob Hope on television, although they don’ t get the jokes even when she translates them into Farsi).

Above all, this is an unforgettable story of identity, discovery, and the power of family love. It is a book that will leave us all laughing—without an accent.

Praise for Funny in Farsi....
“Remarkable...told with wry humor shorn of sentimentality...In the end, what sticks with the reader is an exuberant immigrant embrace of America.”–San Francisco Chronicle

"Funny with Farsi captured the interest of our entire academic community, particularly our first-year students, because it relates to each reader's personal stories. Students who are new to campus identify with Dumas' experiences as the new and different "kid-on-the-block" and the challenges and insights that come with an immigrant and multi-cultural family. In the book and in person, Dumas uses humor to address important issues in a way that reaches people of all generations and backgrounds. Through her stories, Firoozeh Dumas connects with people and inspires us to connect with each other."
—Sheree Meyer, Ph.D., One Book Program Faculty Coordinator & English Department Chair, and Rod Santos, Coordinator of First Year Programs, California State University, Sacramento

"Funny with Farsi captivated our campus as the book choice for our inaugural New Student Reader Program. Its message of shared humanity, resonated with everyone, regardless of age, background or color. Firoozeh Dumas not only educated our students she entertained them as well as our Fall Convocation speaker. I highly recommend it for any First Year Experience reading program.”
—Lawanda Dockins-Gordy, Director New Student Experience and Guerrieri University Center, Salisbury University

"What was really impressive, and what will stay with us always, was Firoozeh's incredible engagement with a wide range of students, faculty and staff. She's a skilled and funny speaker, as we know. But we didn't realize just how powerful she is in small groups. She fielded questions from our fairly sophisticated journalism students (and had a fascinating discussion about humor in Farsi, humor in American Sign Language) as well as from some African students who are new to American culture and to higher education. She questioned just about every student who came to the book signing - she wanted to know their stories. A couple of my students spent some time with her, and later wrote in their journals how she'd inspired them with her simple message - everyone has a story! They expected an author to be unapproachable, and they were just thrilled at what a 'regular person' she was with them! In short, Firoozeh was her usual amazing self."
—Judy Termini, Interim Director of First Year Experience Programs, Gallaudet University

“I am currently teaching Funny in Farsi to the Juniors and Seniors at a continuation high school that serves 250 'challenging' students who didn't make it at a regular high school for whatever reason. As you can imagine, the job has many demands, one of them as an English teacher is teaching a novel, since we have a no homework policy. I picked FinF for many reasons, one of them the 27 short chapters which can be read and discussed in class. So far, my students are REALLY into the book, they BEG me if we can read it aloud, they laugh, even snort, ask meaningful questions (is the book cover turquoise because Firoozeh means 'turquoise' in Persian?) even though most of them have admittingly not 'finished a book since 5th grade.' They like the book so much that two books have 'gone missing' during lunch as some were making up their reading. It's even hard to be upset about that.”
—Nina Finci, Bay Area High School English Teacher

“We chose Funny in Farsi as our first community-wide read book in Palo Alto, and it was the perfect choice. The book is very readable – both humorous and touching – and it is quite accessible to everyone from middle school students to adults. It is also excellent for promoting cultural understanding, which is always a good thing in these times. In addition, Firoozeh Dumas is an absolutely wonderful speaker; she is as funny as any stand-up comedienne. We also invited Firoozeh to work with high school classes, and the students enjoyed the book and her presence so much that they clamored for her to return later in the school year. I would unhesitatingly recommend Funny in Farsi to any community looking for a great book for a community read.”
—Maya Spector, Coordinator of Library Programs/School Liaison, Palo Alto City Library

“With a vivid imagery that captures the attention of children and adults alike, you’re sitting beside Firoozeh Dumas as she retells loosely chronological stories of her Iranian upbringing in 1970’s California in the 2003 National Bestseller Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America. Dumas shares the wisdom of her life experience, her culture and growing up in a land with customs vastly different from her own. For those of us who lived through the 1970s, each chapter reminds us of where we’ve been and where we hope to go not only in this country but within ourselves. In stories that make you laugh out loud, the author sacks many stereotypes about Iranian culture and its people. She captures the stress and tension of international relations, family interactions and social discourse thereby imbibing life lessons the reader is never too old to learn all in an entertaining fashion. Representing the ever changing face of multiculturalism, Funny in Farsi was a delightful read earning five out of five Sable Seals.” –Laura Major, SableLitReviews.com


WINNER - School Library Journal Adult Books for Young Adults


Firoozeh Dumas graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. She lives with her husband and children in Northern California.