Considering I read an almost pathological number of books, it's odd and vaguely embarrassing that I'm so often the last to know about so many good books. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, Funny In Farsi , was a national bestseller in 2003. I discovered this only three years late, when I found a paperback copy ("With A New Final Chapter") in the box of books Youngest Sister brought on her last visit home.
Funny In Farsi is subtitled "A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America." Scary word, memoir--with James Frey and Nasdijj so fresh in our memories and the perception that the genre is comprised largely of "poor me, my childhood sucked" stories.*
Funny In Farsi is not that kind of memoir. Written by Firoozeh Dumas, who first came to the United States at the age of seven in 1972, the book is a series of mostly lighthearted essays, each with its own punchline and nugget or two of wisdom. Dumas has a light touch even with heavy topics such as prejudice, politics, personal identity, and religious and cultural differences (including her own "mixed" marriage to a Catholic Frenchman).
As an Army brat, I've always had a soft spot for those who lived migratory childhoods, who dealt with that fish out of water feeling again and again. Not only does Dumas share that experience--on a much grander geographic and cultural scale, but she seems to view it all with a sort of bemused acceptance I can't help but admire.
Thanks to a deft touch, Funny In Farsi, is a quick, light read that I have a feeling will stick with me for a long time.
Masked Mom's One-Word Review: Recommended.
*That's a perception I disagree with, by the way. The vast majority of memoirs I've read seem to be more a blueprint of their respective authors' healing process rather than a wallowing in the past or the celebration of the author's eventual "triumph." Self-pity and the quest for fame seem to me less common motivators than critics of the genre (not to mention recent literary "events" like Frey's Lies, etc) would have us believe.
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