I’m 8 years old. It’s the week before Christmas. I’m watching the Sonny and Cher Christmas special with my parents. There’s no smell of nutmeg wafting through this house and no time will be wasted opening presents. Such is the life of a secular Muslim immigrant in this land where Santa Claus visits a lot of people, but not everyone.
For Iranian-Americans, as well as communities in the Middle East and parts of Asia, the Spring equinox is celebrated as the start of a new year. In Iran, Nowrouz, which is Persian for New Day, is a massive celebration which includes elaborate traditions like jumping over fire, to let go of the past and embrace a healthy life. Iranian-American author and commentator Firoozeh Dumas shares her stories of celebrating Nowrouz in Iran and the United States with host Michel Martin.
When we moved to America in 1972, we expected my father to translate for us. He had taught English in our hometown of Abadan, Iran. He knew how to conjugate verbs and to use adjectives correctly. He even knew the presidents in order. But once we arrived here, we discovered that my father could not actually speak to any Americans. According to him, Americans did not speak English.
Last summer my then-16-year-old son applied for a summer internship at a local university. He had found the listing at his high school career center. He put together a resume, wrote a cover letter and sent it all off, anxiously waiting an answer…
Writer Firoozeh Dumas talks with Scott Simon about her new memoir, Laughing Without an Accent. It’s a collection of humorous essays about her life as the daughter of Iranian immigrants, and about some the colorful characters in her extended family.
Iranian-American Firoozeh Dumas was a teenager living in Southern California at the time when the Iranian revolution happened, and the hostage crisis changed her life. A few weeks ago, she met one of the former hostages. Kathryn Koob had been a cultural officer at the United States Embassy in Tehran.
Iran does not abide by international copyright laws, which means that foreign books get translated and sold without permission from, or payment to, authors. Commentator Firoozeh Dumas heard that there were 19 versions of the latest Harry Potter book on the Iranian market. She didn’t want her own book to be translated badly, so she hired her own translator. It’s called Funny in Farsi.
Commentator Firoozeh Dumas moved to Southern California from Iran in 1972. Her family didn’t celebrate Christmas, but they watched the Bob Hope Christmas special on TV every year. Her parents always laughed with the laugh track at the jokes — and then asked her to translate them. She got them all, except the golf jokes. She is the author of Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America.
March 10, 2003
In Morning Edition’s ongoing series of commentaries on the subject of possible military action against Iraq, commentator Firoozeh Dumas says France’s opposition to U.S. military action in Iraq is for the first time making her, an Iranian woman, more popular among her American friends than her French husband.
Carl Kasell reads three quotes from the week’s news: The Chatty Senator; The Worm and The Dear Leader; and Fly the Friendly and Knife-y Skies. We’re playing this week with Paula Poundstone, Roy Blount Jr., and Firoozeh Dumas.
From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT…DON’T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I’m Bill Kurtis, filling in for Carl Kasell. We’re playing this week with Paula Poundstone, Roy Blount Jr., and Firoozeh Dumas.