Laughing Without an Accent
Adventures of an Iranian American, at Home and Abroad
By Firoozeh Dumas
Villard, Hardcover, 9780345499561, 240pp.
Publication Date: April 29, 2008
List Price: $22.00*
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In the bestselling memoir Funny in Farsi, Firoozeh Dumas recounted her adventures growing up Iranian American in Southern California. Now she again mines her rich Persian heritage in Laughing Without an Accent, sharing stories both tender and humorous on being a citizen of the world, on her well-meaning family, and on amusing cultural conundrums, all told with insights into the universality of the human condition. (Hint: It may have to do with brushing and flossing daily.)
With dry wit and a bold spirit, Dumas puts her own unique mark on the themes of family, community, and tradition. She braves the uncommon palate of her French-born husband and learns the nuances of having her book translated for Persian audiences (the censors edit out all references to ham). And along the way, she reconciles her beloved Iranian customs with her Western ideals.
Explaining crossover cultural food fare, Dumas says, “The weirdest American culinary marriage is yams with melted marshmallows. I don’t know who thought of this Thanksgiving tradition, but I’m guessing a hyperactive, toothless three-year-old.” On Iranian wedding anniversaries: “It just initially seemed odd to celebrate the day that ‘our families decided we should marry even though I had never met you, and frankly, it’s not working out so well.’” On trying to fit in with her American peers: “At the time, my father drove a Buick LeSabre, a fancy French word meaning ‘OPEC thanks you.’”
Dumas also documents her first year as a new mother, the familial chaos that ensues after she removes the television set from the house, the experience of taking fifty-one family members on a birthday cruise to Alaska, and a road trip to Iowa with an American once held hostage in Iran.
Droll, moving, and relevant, Laughing Without an Accent shows how our differences can unite us–and provides indelible proof that Firoozeh Dumas is a humorist of the highest order.
Advance praise for Laughing Without an Accent
"Dumas builds on her first memoir, Funny in Farsi (2003), offering more amusing tales from her life in this follow-up. Like her first outing, her latest is a collection of anecdotes from different points in her life: stories from her youth in Iran mix with memories of her experiences as a wife, mother, and author. Dumas’ parents remain a big influence in her life, whether she’s dealing with her mother’s frequent and sometimes, in the case of one bright red comforter, unsightly gifts, or trying to understand her father and his brothers’ fixation on The Price Is Right. In one of the funniest chapters, Dumas recalls the time she and her kids decided to try to sell a potato shaped like a cross on eBay, hoping to make a whopping sixty grand. There’s such warmth to Dumas’ writing that it invites the reader to pull up a seat at her table and smile right along with her at the quirks of her family and Iranians and Americans in general." - Booklist
“These stories, like everything Firoozeh Dumas writes, are charming, highly amusing vignettes of family life. Dumas is one of those rare people–a naturally gifted storyteller.”
–Alexander McCall Smith
Praise for Funny in Farsi
“What’s charming beyond the humor of this memoir is that it remains affectionate even in the weakest, most tenuous moments for the culture. It’s the brilliance of true sophistication at work.”
–Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Remarkable tales of family resilience told with wry humor shorn of sentimentality.”
–San Francisco Chronicle
“The book brings us closer to discovering what it means to be an American.”
–San Jose Mercury News