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Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas

Funny in FarsiFunny in Farsi was recommended multiple times over the years when I did Tell Me What to Read and I finally picked it up, burned through it in less than two days and included it in both my 2017 Summer Reading Guide and in my list of the ten best books I read in 2017.

Suffice it to say, I LOVE Funny in Farsi.

Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas

Firoozeh Dumas moved from Iran to California when she was seven years old. Her father was an engineer who had done graduate school in the US, so he was asked to consult for an American engineering firm for a couple of years.

Funny in Farsi is the story of Firoozeh growing up in the US, mixed with her memories and their family stories of life in Iran, and navigating life as an immigrant.

One of the things I love most about this book is that it’s such a great mix of the universal experiences of childhood and growing up (like getting lost in a public place, going to summer camp, babysitting gone wrong, etc) and experience that are more specific to an immigrant family.

The book begins as Firoozeh starts second grade in California and goes through her early married life and every chapter is about some event in her life or an amusing habit or experience in her family.

There is a chapter about her failure to learn to swim for years (which her dad took very personally) and another about how her dad LOVES the free samples at grocery stores. There is a chapter about the incredible way that her father ended up getting a Fulbright scholarship to study in Texas and another one about how she and her husband got coerced into judging a beauty pageant while on vacation.

You never know what you’ll get when you flip to a new chapter, but you CAN count on it being a delight. It’s a really funny book too and I underlined so many amusing lines and turns of phrases that made me laugh out loud.

On the flip side, it’s truly heartbreaking to see the discrimination and hatred her family experiences during the Iranian Revolution, as if they were responsible for the hostage crisis going on half a world away from them.

For a book that you can read in a couple of hours (it’s less than 200 pages long), it’s just filled with smart, interesting, funny stories.

Remember how, years ago, when I wrote about The Wednesday Wars, I said I just couldn’t even do it justice in a review because there were so many components that worked together to make it such a terrific book?

Funny in Farsi is the same way – trying to sum up this book requires a writer much more talented than I am, but I CAN tell you that you’re almost certain to love this book.

I can’t wait to discuss it this month for the Everyday Reading Book Club – it’s going to be so much fun.

P.S. The sequel, Laughing Without An Accent, is equally terrific – I highly recommend you read that one too!


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  1. This truly is one of my VERY favorite books. In fact, I probably would call it my favorite book, if I had to pick just one. So funny and endearing! I’m glad you’re a fan, too! 🙂

  2. I put this on hold when you shared your book club picks for the year and I LOVED it. It was light hearted but had heart. Can’t wait to read the sequel.

  3. I am loving this so much- the one and two hump camel comment made me laugh out loud. This is very different from my usual genre and I’m enjoying it immensely! I am listening on audible and love hearing her accent and pronunciation of Farsi words, which I’m sure I would otherwise be butchering!

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