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"Funny In Farsi" Book Review

For the New Year, one habit I want to implement and stick to is reading. I haven’t read for fun in years; I mostly only read because it’s a school requirement. Call me stubborn, but when I’m told to read a book because I have to, I end up not enjoying it. On the other hand, when I voluntarily pick up a book, I automatically fall in love with the book, the characters, the plot, everything!

At the end of 2020, I made a list of books I wanted to read, and one book that made the list is “Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America” by Firoozeh Dumas, which is the first book I read this year. In one day, I finished the 210-page memoir of author Firoozeh moving to the States from Iran with her family in 1972.

As a fellow Iranian myself, who moved to the States, too, I could relate a lot to what she went through. One important aspect of this book, which I found the most relatable, is the portrayal and treatment of women in Iran, and the Middle East, in general. American and Iranian beliefs of women and their role in society are often clashing; Iranian culture places high amounts of pressure on women to prioritize early marriage and raising children before anything else in life. Women didn’t receive higher education and usually went to school for only a couple of years before getting married. This book reveals the harsh truths of the views of women that many are unaware of.

The story includes the prejudices she and her family faced in America after the hostage crisis, which began in 1979 and tackles the stereotypes of Iranians. Before the Revolution, the Americans they met were friendly towards Iranians, but that all changed with anti-Iranian sayings being sold on t-shirts. The Americans’ ignorance about the Iranian culture and heritage is very much prevalent in the memoir. I, too, have encountered several instances where people have spoken to me in a prejudiced manner because of my Iranian background.

In the story, she talks about both the negative and positive aspects of Iran and the United States. It’s funny yet emotional, explaining what Iranians went through with the Iranian Revolution occurring just a few years after she initially moved. This is the book that can make you burst into laughter one second and make you sob the next. There were a few times while I was reading that I thought how much this book linked and connected to my life, from fighting Iranian stereotypes to experiencing cultural ignorances.

Although the book mentions the hardships she and her family faced, it also presents a perfect balance of love, family, culture, and heritage. It shows the perspective of immigrants coming to America, which is often unacknowledged, through a series of stories that are lighthearted but touching. With this book, people can get a glimpse of what it’s really like to be an immigrant and everything they have to endure, all the prejudices and stereotypes.


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