Coming to America

With a light and breezy touch Firoozeh Dumas chronicles her family’s move to America in Funny in Farsi. Like many immigrants the family tries to assimilate but must deal with mysteries of American culture such as the Thanksgiving turkey and Disneyland.

There are many memoirs that chronicle the immigrant experience so this isn’t necessarily groundbreaking but I still found it highly enjoyable. Perhaps because like Firoozeh, I also moved to the States when I was 7 years old.

I, too, spent time watching the Brady Bunch, wondering what summer camp was like and wishing that my parents would stop using me as their interpreter as my knowledge of English didn’t extend much beyond “Hello, my name is….”

Firoozeh Dumas’ tells her story in short vignettes engaging the reader with tales of her eccentric family. I especially liked the story of her uncle, Nematollah, and his quest to lose weight with diet products advertised on television.

The stories jump in time from her first year in California, back to Iran and through her school years. The reader is only given a glimpse at the political situation, but what I would have liked more was to read about her feelings as she tried to assimilate to a new culture without losing her roots. That’s one thing all immigrants grapple with in their new situations.

I remember crying all the way on our drive from Mexico to Texas. I thought I’d never be able to go back home, never see my friends and never watch another episode of El Chapulin Colorado. Luckily, I quickly learned that I could still do all of that and call both countries home.