Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

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

Posted by nliakos on March 17, 2015

by Firoozeh Dumas (Villard 2003)

Firoozeh Dumas has lived most of her life since the age of seven in California. Her memoir describes her and her family’s life as immigrants. She pokes fun at her extended family, in particular her father Kazem (who forbade her to use their real name in the book, and lucky for him, she complied), but really sparing no one, including herself. Clueless Americans are also a target. There is a lot that made me smile but little that made me want to laugh out loud. Still, I enjoyed the book, which is a mere 187 small pages.

One of my favorite parts, however, was not meant to provoke laughter. In the chapter “The Ham Amendment”, Dumas tells how she learned in religion class that people who ate pork products were destined to go to hell; this was during a two-year period that she and her family returned to Iran briefly before they emigrated. Her father used to take her with him on his forays to purchase canned ham. When she realized that this condemned him to hell, she confronted him. When he finished laughing, her father explained, It’s not what we eat or don’t eat that makes us good people; it’s how we treat one another. As you grow older, you’ll find that people of every religion think they’re the best, but that’s not true. There are good and bad people in every religion. Just because someone is Muslim, Jewish, or Christian doesn’t mean a thing. You have to look and see what’s in  their hearts. That’s the only thing that matters, and that’s the only detail God cares about. Dumas continues, I was six years old and I knew that I had just been made privy to something very big and important, something far larger than the jewels in the Shah’s crown, something larger than my little life in Abadan. My father’s words felt scandalous, yet utterly and completely true.

Fundamentalists everywhere, are you paying attention?

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2 Responses to “Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America”

  1. Shirley said

    Love the entry you quoted. Thanks, Nina.

  2. […] enjoyed Funny in Farsi, I was looking forward to Dumas’ second book, and it did not disappoint (nor was it very […]

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