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Join Palo Alto Reads -- "Funny in Farsi"

Original post made by Palo Alto City Librarians, Community Center, on Sep 26, 2006

"Funny in Farsi" by Firoozeh Dumas is a humorous and lighthearted memoir about the author leaving Iran at the age of 7 and coming to live in Whittier, California. Told in short, laugh-out-loud vignettes, it illuminates the universal challenges of coming to live in the United States. Dumas uses her sharp wit and warm affection to paint vivid pictures of her colorful extended family and their adventures in their beloved new country.

We invite all Palo Altans to participate in Palo Alto Reads -- Funny in Farsi. Firoozeh Dumas will launch a month of outstanding library programs with her talk at Palo Alto High School's Haymarket Theater on Tuesday, October 10 at 7:30 p.m. To find out more about these programs, go to Web Link

If you have already read the book, please comment. If you haven't, you can place a hold on a copy at the Palo Alto City Library.

Comments (17)

Posted by Kathy
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 30, 2006 at 6:33 am

I loved the book!!! I had alot of contact with new immigrants and refugees to the bay area in the 70's and 80's as my family hosted many of them from Vietnam and Afganistan. I myself live abroad now in Europe and have experienced living in and adapting to a new culture. It was definately a laugh outloud read. I could relate to the experiences of Firoozeh as they were very similar to those of my new friends and immigrants to California as well as being universal enough to pull hearts strings of an immigrant.

Posted by Carrie
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 30, 2006 at 6:02 pm

In 7th grade, under new state Department of Education rules, all California public school students are required to dress up like a Muslim and for one day and pray to Allah. It's part of the curriculum. I think it's great -- and this book helps get the kids into the right mindset!

Posted by pc parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2006 at 10:18 am

I trust Carrie is wrong in her post. I have nothing against learning about other religions, dressing in the culture and role playing the lifestyle, but it should be done for all major religions, not just one. And as for praying to the Muslim deity, wow. Whatever happened about banning prayer in public schools. There have been so many arguments about praying at graduation ceremonies, football games, etc. kids saying grace before lunch, and so on and so forth that we cannot sanction something like this. My goodness, we cannot even use the word "Christmas" in school let alone call a spade a spade and call jewish holidays (Holy Days) by their correct name although we do give them off to our students here in Palo Alto.

To truly educate our children, we should be talking about religion in schools. Not that we should endorse any particular religion, but teaching children the fundamentals of what other religions believe must be part of a good broad education. I have heard so much mis information of what others believe here that it astounds me. From all Christians believe in Santa Claus and how Ramadan is a time when Muslims don't eat anything for a whole month, shows that we need to educate, but education must be consistent. We need to get rid of all prejudices by treating all equally, not by treating one group in a special manner. If my child is taught about Muslim tradition, great. Please don't make them learn about one religion alone, teach them the whole spectrum. And, teaching them about a religion is one thing, don't make it a farce by making them "pray" to a deity they don't believe in.

Posted by Patrick
a resident of University South
on Oct 4, 2006 at 1:33 am

What this school is doing is perfectly legal. The U.S. Supreme Court spoke on the issue just this Monday.

Web Link

Posted by pc parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2006 at 9:46 am

I am not criticising any one particular person, but how can getting students to recite prayers be classed as not participating in a particular religious practice?

This is just a question.

Posted by Susie
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2006 at 3:27 pm

I thought that "Funny in Farsi" was sophmoric and VERY badly written.

Posted by Reader
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Oct 7, 2006 at 8:07 pm

It's refreshing to see that not everyone is on the bandwagon. I read the book; it is pleasant and amusing and I think the author writes well. But the incredible fuss over this one little book, the enormous hoopla, the library is making so much fuss, you'd think it got the Nobel prize for literature. It is an ordinary, nice book. That's all.

Posted by susie
a resident of another community
on Oct 9, 2006 at 2:10 pm

If you would like to read a wonderful and well written book read "The Kite Runner". I don't understand the hoopla over "Funny in Farsi" either

Posted by Susan
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 12, 2006 at 7:32 am

Funny in Farsi is upbeat and humorous in the way it describes the coming to America experience and family life. I wish more people had Ms. Dumas' approach to the challenges we all face.

Posted by Palo Alto Librarians
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 12, 2006 at 8:35 am

Palo Alto Reads .... Funny in Farsi kicked off Tuesday night with the appearance of author Firoozeh Dumas at Palo Alto High School. Close to 300 people attended this free event for the public and were charmed by Ms.Dumas' highly entertaining talk.

What the "hoopla" is all about is that Palo Alto is celebrating its first community-wide reads program, an opportunity for people to come together through literature. We're calling it "the largest book club the City has ever seen." The fact that there is an ongoing community discussion about a book IS the point.

Funny in Farsi, as Ms. Dumas told the audience on Tuesday, is about shared humanity. The Palo Alto Reads program is about creating community and building bridges cultural awareness.

Tuesday's program was just the first of a whole month-long series of events. Please check out the schedule at

Posted by Taff
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 12, 2006 at 10:12 am

It's good to have a book like "Funny in Farsi" that is easy enough - stylistically and as far as content is concerned - for teens to read with parents. It introduces some of the complexities of culture and personal identity.

I've started to read "Lipstick Jihad" which is acerbic, political, and frankly, frightening, in what it says about socially repressive societies, and how an individual can make a "home" within its constraints.

Posted by Carol
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 12, 2006 at 5:08 pm

This books reminds me of the movie "Bend it like Beckham". Forget the fact that it takes place in England. Forget the fact that it is about soccer. It is about growing up in one culture while living in another and that is something that many relate to in this area. Seeing the movie with my teenage daughter actually taught me something. I started to appreciate that although I value my heritage and want to pass it on to my family, I can't forget that they are being brought up in a culture that is new to me. They do not want to rebel about my culture, but they do want me to accept that as Americans they want to do things that are different to the way that I would like them to do them. For this reason, even this discussion is a good thing, because in the multi cultured area in which we live, acceptance of differences and learning common ground is something we should all aim for.

Posted by Palo Alto Librarians
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 13, 2006 at 9:18 am

EVENT CANCELED: Due to the illness of the presenter, the following event that was to be part of Palo Alto Reads is being canceled: The Palo Alto Art Center Presents “Sabah: A Love Story”: A Film by Ruba Nada October 18, 7:30 pm, Art Center Auditorium.

Posted by Firoozeh Dumas
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 16, 2006 at 2:20 pm

Disclaimer: I am the author of Funny in Farsi. In particular to "Susie from another community" who really, really does not like the book and does not understand why anybody in their right mind would select this book, here's one view: I have been traveling for the past three years in the US and almost everywhere I have gone, I have encountered people who equate Middle East with terrorism. Their exposure to that part of the world is limited to what they see on the evening news. For many of them, reading my book humanizes a group of people who many see only as potential hostage takers. And it sparks discussions. Hurray for freedom of speech! And believe it or not, many people actually do like the book, including Khaled Hosseini, author of the Kite Runner. Nobody claimed that my book has won the Noble Prize., Rest assured, however, I have my speech ready. -Firoozeh Dumas

Posted by Palo Alto Librarian
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 16, 2006 at 5:06 pm

One reason the book was selected was because of the charming author that actually lives in our community! Thank you, Firoozeh, for sharing your book, life and time with the citizens of Palo Alto!

Funny in Farsi has contributed to discussions about what it is to be a stranger in a strange land. We could all take lessons on how to adapt and how difficult it can be. And keep smiling as we do it.

Posted by Amy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 25, 2006 at 12:25 pm

Absolutely enjoying the book. I savor each chapter and anxiously await the next one. GREAT choice.

Posted by Marianne
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 20, 2006 at 3:51 pm

"The Swallows of Kabul" is a great book, beautifully
written and also very haunting, if you are looking for
what I'd call a more "literary" book. Also, see Monica
Ali's "Brick Lane" about the Bangladeshi community in
England. Both highly recommended.

But I also liked "Funny in Farsi", partly because it's
light hearted and she does (in a "simple" way - I don't
agree with "sophomoric" way) paint a picture of the nice,
plain side of America. I think it's a side of America
it's good to remember - remember that it's still here.
I would also recommend "Funny in Farsi". I sent it to
my mother. And my sister in upstate NY is starting up
a book club to read "Funny in Farsi".

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