Funny in Farsi


Firoozeh Dumas

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Funny in Farsi Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Firoozeh Dumas's Funny in Farsi. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Firoozeh Dumas

Firoozeh Dumas was born in Iran but grew up mostly in California. She attended Berkeley and graduated with honors, and shortly afterwards married her husband, François Dumas. In 2001, she submitted a collection of stories about her early life, and much to her surprise, Random House published the stories under the title Funny in Farsi­ in 2003. Since 2003, Dumas has written another memoir of her childhood, Laughing Without an Accent (2008), and a middle school-level work of fiction, It’ Ain’t so Awful, Falafel (2016).
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Historical Context of Funny in Farsi

The main historical event discussed in Funny in Farsi is the Iranian Revolution of 1979. After many years of civil unrest in Iran, Shia clerics organized a revolution against the country’s American-backed leader, the Shah. In the wake of the Revolution, Iranian society became increasingly religious and authoritarian, and many Iranians—including some of Firoozeh’s relatives—fled the country. Firoozeh also discusses the Iran Hostage Crisis (1979-1981), during which armed Iranian students from the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line took hostages from the American Embassy in Tehran. The students demanded that the U.S. send the Shah—who’d sought asylum in the United States—back to Iran to stand trial for his tyranny and corruption, threatening to kill American citizens unless the U.S. government complied. The hostages were released shortly after the death of the Shah, and just hours before the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan.

Other Books Related to Funny in Farsi

Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club (1989) is another book about the challenges of parenting for immigrants in America. Like Funny in Farsi, Tan’s novel incorporates many autobiographical elements and mixes comedy and pathos. Another serio-comic novel about the immigrant experience, Karolina Waclawiak’s How to Get Into the Twin Palms (2012), addresses many of the same themes as Dumas’s memoir.
Key Facts about Funny in Farsi
  • Full Title: Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America
  • When Written: 1998-2000
  • Where Written: California and Tehran
  • When Published: Fall 2003
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Setting: Whittier and Newport, California, and Abadan and Ahwaz, Iran
  • Antagonist: While Funny in Farsi doesn’t have any single strong antagonistic character, it could be argued that bigotry and intolerance are the antagonists of the memoir
  • Point of View: First person (Firoozeh’s point of view)

Extra Credit for Funny in Farsi

Hear her voice! In addition to her writing, Firoozeh Dumas is a regular commentator on National Public Radio.

A gracious loser. Funny in Farsi was nominated for many awards, including the James Thurber Prize for American Humor and a 2005 Audie Award (for the audio recording of her memoir). Although Dumas didn’t win either award, she lost to some heavy hitters: the Emmy Award-winning comedian Jon Stewart and the Nobel Prize-winning musician Bob Dylan, respectively.