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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2005
I understand the critiques and not-so-positive reviews that this book has received: mostly commenting on how it's just a bunch of stories put together, there's not really any "flow". Or it's just about superficial, daily, trivial issues. Nothing like a typical "memoir". I think they're all valid -- as long as these people are willing to admit their preconceived notions of what a "memoir" should be like. (that's why they're disappointed, right? and it's perfectly ok to be disappointed)

But, i strongly suggest finding out what the author's true intentions and goals are before criticizing the work. How? Ask her. (email, letters) Find a reliable source (such as an interview, etc).

The main point of the book is on our SHARED HUMANITY. The backdrop of much of her life (especially childhood) was the change from "oh you're from Iran? (and where the heck is the country?)" to "oh you're from Iran? (the country whose people are all evil and we hate you guys!)" She is trying to show a lighter picture of Iranians, Middle Easterners; that Iranians are people like us too! (seriously, do you think that all Iranians and Middle Easterns are serious and boring and American-haters? Is this the image that you get from the media?)

When you want to learn about a country or people, watching TV is one of the worst ways to learn it. Sure, it gives you a lot of facts, but the portrayal of people tends to focus simply on the negative side, or sometimes the idealistic/romanticized picture. (imagine, for a foreigner who has never been to the States who watches evening news every evening, don't you think s/he might come to the conclusion that the U.S. is a country full of robbers and theives and rapists and what you have nots? that's all it is on TV!!!) Now apply this logic to Irians, Middle Easterners, Muslims, and whoever. See if you can come up with any good things about them from the media or any good people. (in fact, the only "good" Middle Easterners portrayed on the media that I can think of on top of my head is Aladdin)

If you want to get to know a country or culture, befriend someone who is from there!

Firoozeh is trying to tell people that there is this other side of Iranians that most of us don't know. (if we're honest, most of us have the attitude of "i don't care! and i don't care that i don't care!") Iranians are just as human as we all are. Too often we're so quick to build walls, we don't even try to build any bridges. We are so quick to point out our differences, we don't even try to find our commonalities.

if you're looking for a short, light, funny book that will give you an idea of an Iranian family growing up in America, I recommend it! (i admit that's probably why I like the book!)

btw, 1) I've read the entire book. 2) I'm not an Iranian. In fact, I'm Chinese. 3)my comments about Firoozeh and her intentions and goals for the book -- i didn't make these up. I met Firoozeh today. She shared with us herself. :)

if you like it, share it with your friends!
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64 of 70 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon January 31, 2004
"Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America," by Firoozeh Dumas, begins with 7-year old Firoozeh and her family moving from Abadan, Iran to the strange new land of Whittier, California. From there the story moves back and forth in time, covering the narrator's childhood in Iran, her adulthood and marriage, and more.
This is a wonderful book that made me laugh at loud at times. But it's also touching and inspirational. Dumas' narrative follows a colorful and likeable cast of characters, most notably her father Kazem: a hardworking engineer determined to live his own version of the American dream. Dumas' prose is clear, engaging, and quite witty. She writes with a contagious affection for her Iranian culture, the United States, and her family.
Although the book is often very humorous, Dumas also effectively covers some serious topics--the language barrier, religious controversy, female body image, the impact of the Iranian hostage crisis, etc. And along the way we get a spicy taste of Iranian culture and tradition. Overall, this is a superb addition to the canon of literature that explores the rich and complex topic of ethnicity in the U.S; it's a book well suited for college courses, reading groups, and individual pleasure reading. As a companion text, I strongly recommend "A World Between: Poems, Short Stories, and Essays by Iranian Americans," edited by Persis M. Karim and Mohammad Mehdi Khorrami.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2003
The first thing you notice about Funny in Farsi is that it's impossible to put down. Dumas does an excellent job of weaving absolutely hilarious stories about her family (especially involving her dad, Kazem) with touching tales of family unity in difficult times. It's not just a typical fish out of water story about the struggle to assimilate into new surroundings, it involves much more than that. Funny in Farsi can engage you in side-splitting laughter and bring a touching tear to your eye all in the same chapter. It's an unbelievable book that leaves you wanting more when you reach the end much faster than you would have hoped. Buy this book, you'll love it.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2003
A book with "funny" in its title already gives readers expectations of being funny--and rightly so, because it lives up to all of its expectations, and I laughed out loud at every page! It's Dumas' witty, clever play on words when she retells her tales of childhood mishaps that makes this book so endearing and easy to identify with. We've all tried to fit in somehow, somewhere and ended up doing exactly the opposite! Dumas manages to take these stories and tell them with such humor, that sad stories turn into absurd ones--providing lots of giggles and laughter on the way. But the book also has tremendous substance, as Dumas writes about her family with love--especially her father, who is the epitome of kindness, and the ultimate lessons she learns growing up in an Iranian family in California. Those lessons of generosity and humanity serve her well through life's ups and downs, and she is able to look back on even the toughest of circumstances with side-splitting humor. I highly recommend this book for anyone that has ever felt "displaced"--and that would be every one of us. Brilliant!
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Another reviewer referred to Funny in Farsi as "My Big, Fat Iranian Life" and that's not a bad analogy, although I enjoyed it more than My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

There are a lot of funny episodes in the book, as Dumas describes her family's adjustments from pre-Revolution Iran to Seventies California. Dumas was young enough when her family came to America that she grew up speaking and acting as American as the other kids in her suburban neighborhood. The adults in her family had more trouble adapting to the peculiarities of American life, but they jumped right in anyway. Her father aspired to be a game-show contestant, her mother wanted to get along without learning English, and her uncle expected to lose weight without exercising. Sounds pretty normal to me.

But it gets a bit serious, too, when they return to Iran at the wrong time. Dumas describes how they are caught up in events and how they manage to return to California. Dumas's story and her upbeat attitude make this an engaging memoir.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2006
Recently we had our middle school and high school students read Funny in Farsi. What a hit. The kids loved the stories. They could really relate to stories of her childhood. It also helped them understand the immigrant experience from another perspective. Ms. Dumas helps students understand the universality of family life.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2005
After 70 years of reading biographies, I'm rather jaded, but Funny In Farsi just blew me away! The story of the Iranian family coming to California is interesting as to their experiences, but it's Firoozeh's hilarious attitude about it all that made me fall in love with her. This book is a Must Read and Share It With Your Friends kind of discovery.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2003
The book was very well-written and entertaining. I passed it along to my 13 year old who enjoyed it very much as well. Although we're American, we both of us identified mightily with much of this book. When my daughter was 6 years old we relocated to the Philippines for two and half years and went from struggling single parent houshold to living in a ritzy neighborhood, with maids, a driver and a swimming pool ... kind of reverse of Dumas.
My Jewish daughter went to a private Catholic school so that I could keep her close to home and have to send her on an hours long bus ride to the American or International school. She was the only American and the only non-Catholic at the school and said she identified very much with Dumas essays.
I am just a few years older than Dumas and enjoyed reading about our common pop culture era ... I admit to being uncomfortable as I read her account, from her point of view, of the "Iranians Go Home" slogans many of us sported in the late '70s/early '80s. I am glad we seem to have risen above that and that, for the most part, similar sentiments have not been shown post-9/11. SHe relates it all in good stride, however.
Her family life is genuinely something to envy ... such a close bunch, and so opposite from the distance of her husband's family.
I highly recommend this funny, quick read to all.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2009
I have just finished reading this book. Overall I felt it was well written and funny. I laught aloud in several parts. The one I liked most was the one where the author describes her father's pation for DYI (do-it-yourself) projects. As I was reading I realized that she could be talking about me. I decided that my wife will not be allowed to read that chapter. :O)

But I couldn't bring myself to give a higher than 3 stars review. Actually I played with the idea of giving a lower rating, but settled for the 3 stars.

In my opinion, the pros of the book are:

1 - easy and quick reading. I read the book in a few hours and I am not a particularly quick reader. The author choice of words are effective and it is easy to understand what she wants to communicate.

2 - the stories are funny and well presented. As I mentioned above, there were several parts that made me laught alound. I even had to stop at some parts and tell my wife why I was laughing.


3 - Although the title seems to indicate it is the author's memoirs, it seems that the great majority of the stories are about her parents. Actually I would say that probably 80% of the content refers to her father. I was expecting a more personal narrative - something like the author sharing her own stories and experiences. What I found was the author sharing funny stories about her father and family.

4 - I felt uncorfortable with the way the author refers to her parents. I don't recall one instance where she made a nice comment about her parents. Story after story she was always making fun of her parents. Her mother didn't know geography, didn't learn English well, had a thick accent. She even mentions more than one that most of her mom's sentences did not have a verb. Same thing with her father. I felt really uncorfortable. I understand that teenagers and maybe young adults usually think their parents have all the defects in the world. I also believe that most people as they mature realize that their parents were not always wrong or ridiculous. Again, in the book I didn't find any nice word/thought about the author's parents. (Disclaimer - this may be a cultural thing because according to the author, her parents did not think the book was abusive).

To illustrate this point and one of the most shocking parts for me was when she comments how her father was excited with the sale of her book at Amazon. He first calls to congratulate her that her book had sold almost 1.5 million copies. She basically states that it was not possible because her book hadn't been released yet and her father was looking at the ranking (her book was in the 1.5 millionth position). And then she goes on to write that her father started tracking the ranking and writing it on a little notebook. She then comments that it was probably the notebook with the most useless information on Earth (or something to that effect). There was no tenderness towards her father. No acknowledgement to her father's interest in her book and success.

5 - Contrasting to the way she portrayed her parents, the author had only good things to say about herself. How smart, inteligent, witty, etc. In any memoir, one would expect that the author would have some ups and downs. Some parts would show the author in a good light, and others in not so good light. In this book, the author showed herself only in good light. And her parents in a bad light.

So although I toyed with the idea of giving a 1 or 2 star review in the end I felt it wouldn't be fair with the author. The book is well written and it is funny. I enjoyed reading it and I would read the second one she released recently.

I hope this helps.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2013
One would assume that choosing the title the author/publisher did, the book should have been funny and about the immigrant experience. Sadly it is neither - the laugh out loud bits are about as abundant as restaurants serving bacon and baby back ribs in Riyadh. What you get instead is a light hearted caricature of the author's father, going into his follies and foibles in depth. Having emigrated at the age of 7, the author does not herself have a significant degree of culture shock personally. And California is hardly the place to complain about with respect to settling in. The author narrates how the Iranian diaspora has adapted to the American lifestyle, while preserving key aspects of their tradition. The book is more than a little self-indulgent, and quite often the the author comes across as bitter in her observations. That said, the book has a nice flow and is an easy read for all ages.

In terms of gaining an insight into Iranian life, Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel 'Persepolis' does a infinitely better job of portraying the challenges of Iranian life and the spirit if those not willing to surrender to the mullahs. Anurag Mathur's 'Inscrutable Americans' was far more humorous (if a tad crude, but hey i was a dozen years younger when i read and enjoyed it quite a bit).
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