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to clarify some misunderstandings
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!