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

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Finalist for the PEN/USA Award in Creative Nonfiction, the Thurber Prize for American Humor, and the Audie Award in Biography/Memoir

This Random House Reader’s Circle edition includes a reading group guide and a conversation between Firoozeh Dumas and Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner!

“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

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
 
“Heartfelt and hilarious—in any language.”Glamour
 
“A joyful success.”Newsday
 
“What’s charming beyond the humor of this memoir is that it remains affectionate even in the weakest, most tenuous moments for the culture. It’s the brilliance of true sophistication at work.”Los Angeles Times Book Review
 
“Often hilarious, always interesting . . . Like the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, this book describes with humor the intersection and overlapping of two cultures.”The Providence Journal
 
“A humorous and introspective chronicle of a life filled with love—of family, country, and heritage.”—Jimmy Carter
 
“Delightfully refreshing.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
 
“[Funny in Farsi] brings us closer to discovering what it means to be an American.”San Jose Mercury News


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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About the author

Firoozeh Dumas was born in Abadan, Iran, and moved to California at the age of seven. After a two-year stay, she and her family moved back to Iran and resided in Ahvaz and Tehran. Two years later, Dumas returned to California, where she later attended the University of California at Berkeley.
 
Funny in Farsi was a finalist for both the PEN/USA Award in 2004 and the Thurber Prize for American Humor, and has been adopted in junior high, high school and college curricula throughout the nation. It has been selected for common reading programs at several universities including: California State Bakersfield, California State University at Sacramento, Fairmont State University in West Virginia, Gallaudet University, Salisbury University, University of Wisconsin–La Crosse and the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
 
Dumas is also the author of Laughing Without an Accent, a collection of autobiographical essays published in May 2008. She currently lives with her husband and their three children in Northern California.
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Reviews

4.0
62 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Random House
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Published on
Dec 18, 2007
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Pages
224
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ISBN
9780307430991
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Cultural Heritage
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Social Science / Emigration & Immigration
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Firoozeh Dumas
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “There’s such warmth to Dumas’ writing that it invites the reader to pull up a seat at her table and smile right along with her at the quirks of her family and Iranians and Americans in general.”—Booklist

In the New York Times bestselling memoir Funny in Farsi, Firoozeh Dumas recounted her adventures growing up Iranian American in Southern California. Now she again mines her rich Persian heritage in Laughing Without an Accent, sharing stories both tender and humorous on being a citizen of the world, on her well-meaning family, and on amusing cultural conundrums, all told with insights into the universality of the human condition. (Hint: It may have to do with brushing and flossing daily.)

With dry wit and a bold spirit, Dumas puts her own unique mark on the themes of family, community, and tradition. She braves the uncommon palate of her French-born husband and learns the nuances of having her book translated for Persian audiences (the censors edit out all references to ham). And along the way, she reconciles her beloved Iranian customs with her Western ideals.

Explaining crossover cultural food fare, Dumas says, “The weirdest American culinary marriage is yams with melted marshmallows. I don’t know who thought of this Thanksgiving tradition, but I’m guessing a hyperactive, toothless three-year-old.” On Iranian wedding anniversaries: “It just initially seemed odd to celebrate the day that ‘our families decided we should marry even though I had never met you, and frankly, it’s not working out so well.’” On trying to fit in with her American peers: “At the time, my father drove a Buick LeSabre, a fancy French word meaning ‘OPEC thanks you.’”

Dumas also documents her first year as a new mother, the familial chaos that ensues after she removes the television set from the house, the experience of taking fifty-one family members on a birthday cruise to Alaska, and a road trip to Iowa with an American once held hostage in Iran.

Droll, moving, and relevant, Laughing Without an Accent shows how our differences can unite us—and provides indelible proof that Firoozeh Dumas is a humorist of the highest order.

Praise for Laughing Without an Accent
 
“Dumas is one of those rare people: a naturally gifted storyteller.”—Alexander McCall Smith
 
“Laughing Without an Accent is written . . . as if Dumas were sharing a cup of coffee with her reader as she relates her comic tales. . . . Firoozeh Dumas exudes undeniable charm [as she] reveals a zeal for culture—both new and old—and the enduring bonds of a family filled with outsize personalities.”—San Francisco Chronicle
 
“[Dumas is] like a blend of Anne Lamott and Erma Bombeck.”—Bust
 
“Humorous without being sentimental, [Dumas] speaks to the American experience.”—The Plain Dealer


From the Hardcover edition.
James McBride
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Lord Bird, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction, Five-Carat Soul, and Kill 'Em and Leave, a James Brown biography.

The incredible modern classic that Oprah.com calls one of the best memoirs of a generation and launched James McBride’s literary career.

Over two years on The New York Times bestseller list

Who is Ruth McBride Jordan? A self-declared "light-skinned" woman evasive about her ethnicity, yet steadfast in her love for her twelve black children. James McBride, journalist, musician, and son, explores his mother's past, as well as his own upbringing and heritage, in a poignant and powerful debut, The Color Of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother.

The son of a black minister and a woman who would not admit she was white, James McBride grew up in "orchestrated chaos" with his eleven siblings in the poor, all-black projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn. "Mommy," a fiercely protective woman with "dark eyes full of pep and fire," herded her brood to Manhattan's free cultural events, sent them off on buses to the best (and mainly Jewish) schools, demanded good grades, and commanded respect. As a young man, McBride saw his mother as a source of embarrassment, worry, and confusion—and reached thirty before he began to discover the truth about her early life and long-buried pain.

In The Color of Water, McBride retraces his mother's footsteps and, through her searing and spirited voice, recreates her remarkable story. The daughter of a failed itinerant Orthodox rabbi, she was born Rachel Shilsky (actually Ruchel Dwara Zylska) in Poland on April 1, 1921. Fleeing pogroms, her family emigrated to America and ultimately settled in Suffolk, Virginia, a small town where anti-Semitism and racial tensions ran high. With candor and immediacy, Ruth describes her parents' loveless marriage; her fragile, handicapped mother; her cruel, sexually-abusive father; and the rest of the family and life she abandoned.

At seventeen, after fleeing Virginia and settling in New York City, Ruth married a black minister and founded the all- black New Brown Memorial Baptist Church in her Red Hook living room. "God is the color of water," Ruth McBride taught her children, firmly convinced that life's blessings and life's values transcend race. Twice widowed, and continually confronting overwhelming adversity and racism, Ruth's determination, drive and discipline saw her dozen children through college—and most through graduate school. At age 65, she herself received a degree in social work from Temple University.

Interspersed throughout his mother's compelling narrative, McBride shares candid recollections of his own experiences as a mixed-race child of poverty, his flirtations with drugs and violence, and his eventual self- realization and professional success. The Color of Water touches readers of all colors as a vivid portrait of growing up, a haunting meditation on race and identity, and a lyrical valentine to a mother from her son.

 

Firoozeh Dumas
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “There’s such warmth to Dumas’ writing that it invites the reader to pull up a seat at her table and smile right along with her at the quirks of her family and Iranians and Americans in general.”—Booklist

In the New York Times bestselling memoir Funny in Farsi, Firoozeh Dumas recounted her adventures growing up Iranian American in Southern California. Now she again mines her rich Persian heritage in Laughing Without an Accent, sharing stories both tender and humorous on being a citizen of the world, on her well-meaning family, and on amusing cultural conundrums, all told with insights into the universality of the human condition. (Hint: It may have to do with brushing and flossing daily.)

With dry wit and a bold spirit, Dumas puts her own unique mark on the themes of family, community, and tradition. She braves the uncommon palate of her French-born husband and learns the nuances of having her book translated for Persian audiences (the censors edit out all references to ham). And along the way, she reconciles her beloved Iranian customs with her Western ideals.

Explaining crossover cultural food fare, Dumas says, “The weirdest American culinary marriage is yams with melted marshmallows. I don’t know who thought of this Thanksgiving tradition, but I’m guessing a hyperactive, toothless three-year-old.” On Iranian wedding anniversaries: “It just initially seemed odd to celebrate the day that ‘our families decided we should marry even though I had never met you, and frankly, it’s not working out so well.’” On trying to fit in with her American peers: “At the time, my father drove a Buick LeSabre, a fancy French word meaning ‘OPEC thanks you.’”

Dumas also documents her first year as a new mother, the familial chaos that ensues after she removes the television set from the house, the experience of taking fifty-one family members on a birthday cruise to Alaska, and a road trip to Iowa with an American once held hostage in Iran.

Droll, moving, and relevant, Laughing Without an Accent shows how our differences can unite us—and provides indelible proof that Firoozeh Dumas is a humorist of the highest order.

Praise for Laughing Without an Accent
 
“Dumas is one of those rare people: a naturally gifted storyteller.”—Alexander McCall Smith
 
“Laughing Without an Accent is written . . . as if Dumas were sharing a cup of coffee with her reader as she relates her comic tales. . . . Firoozeh Dumas exudes undeniable charm [as she] reveals a zeal for culture—both new and old—and the enduring bonds of a family filled with outsize personalities.”—San Francisco Chronicle
 
“[Dumas is] like a blend of Anne Lamott and Erma Bombeck.”—Bust
 
“Humorous without being sentimental, [Dumas] speaks to the American experience.”—The Plain Dealer


From the Hardcover edition.
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