Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America is Firoozeh Dumas‘s tribute to all that makes America beautiful. In 1972, seven-year-old Dumas moved with her family from Iran to Southern California, with no firsthand knowledge of America beyond her father’s glowing memories of his graduate school years here.
I was lucky to have come to America years before the political upheaval in Iran. The Americans we encountered were kind and curious, unafraid to ask questions and willing to listen. As soon as I spoke enough English to communicate, I found myself being interviewed nonstop by children and adults alike.
Dumas tells her story with honesty and without judgement, and readers will be drawn in by this family’s determination to embrace a skeptical country.
When my parents and I get together today, we often talk about our first year in America. Even though thirty years have passed, our memories have not faded. We remember the kindness more than ever, knowing that our relatives who immigrated to this country after the Iranian Revolution did not encounter the same America. They saw Americans who had bumper stickers on their cars that read “Iranians: Go Home” or “We Play Cowboys and Iranians.” The Americans they met rarely invited them to their houses. These Americans felt that they knew all about Iran and its people, and they had no questions, just opinions. My relatives did not think Americans were very kind.
From cover to cover, I enjoyed this fast-moving, engaging story during one short airline flight. I shed a tear and I laughed out loud—and shared my new favorite book with nearby passengers. (My only regret is that I didn’t know about this special memoir before now. It was first published in 2003.) And I completely agree with what The Mercury News of San José has said:
“[Funny in Farsi] brings us closer to discovering what it means to be an American.”
Reader, what can you and I do today to embrace an immigrant?
“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.”
Let’s you and I be the ones who ask questions with kindness and listen with love.
Here with you,