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Laughing Without an Accent: Adventures of a…
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Laughing Without an Accent: Adventures of a Global Citizen (1) (edition 2009)

by Firoozeh Dumas (Author)

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2581381,356 (3.71)18
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 anAmerican 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.… (more)
Member:AmericaHouse
Title:Laughing Without an Accent: Adventures of a Global Citizen (1)
Authors:Firoozeh Dumas (Author)
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2009), Edition: Reprint, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
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Laughing Without an Accent: Adventures of an Iranian American, at Home and Abroad by Firoozeh Dumas

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I was so disappointed in this. I'm surprised Dumas has been able to make a living as a writer, because, while she has wonderful material to start with, she doesn't seem to know what to do with it. There's no grace to her writing, no artistry. She relates each story as though she's telling it to a friend she just bumped into in the grocery store, complete with backtracks and repeats as she tries to fill in the details. Towards the end of the book, she does seem to attempt to provide some moral to some of her stories, something the reader can relate to and take with them, particularly if the story was poignant. Generally, though, I was left thinking, "Oh, that's nice," and moved on. It doesn't help that during the first part of the book, she moves back and forth in time and place, so you never have a sense of reference. She and her father get pulled over by the police -- what country?? How old is she?? It's another stumbling block in attempting to relate. Several of her stories are so outrageous that I suspect she made them up. One just can't believe some people could be so ridiculous. Is she and her family a typical example of what Iran produces with it's superior schooling and discipline?

I was also greatly offended by her assessment of the United States, or as she routinely refers to it, "America". Considering how long she's lived here now, she should know better than to try to make generalizations. But she repeatedly applies her single experience to the entire nation, and usually in an unfavorable light. In fact, the whole first half of the book is less a compilation of stories and more a list of complaints, generally finding the U.S. lacking. She comes across as bitter and angry, poorly disguised in so-called humor. Her LACK of global perspective, in fact, is evident in the chapter about food. While she acknowledges that each culture has food items other cultures might find odd, she has the audacity to state, "And if you're ever lucky enough to be invited to an Iranian's home, you never have to worry about weird food, since we use only beef, lamb, fish, and chicken." Is this sarcasm? If so, it's a rare incident of it for her, and the reader has no reason to make that assumption. Later in the same chapter, she talks about sheep's head and feet soup. Nothing weird about that. (Yes, that was sarcasm.)

I did not find this book funny. It reminded me of some of the papers I wrote in college, attempting to be funny. In other words, it sounds like the work of an amateur. It's a quick read, like something in the "Young Adult" category, so I wouldn't say it's a waste of time, but at $15 I would say it's a waste of money.

Full disclosure: I lived several years in pre-revolutionary Iran. ( )
  Lit_Cat | Dec 9, 2017 |
Laughing Without an Accent is a collection of memoirs by Firoozeh Dumas, a woman who moved from Iran to America before the revolution. The book is by turns funny, serious, and inspirational.

“. . . to deny someone an education is not just a crime but a sin, because you are denying that person the opportunity to realize who he or she is meant to be.”

The stories are conversational in tone and vary from Dumas’s childhood recollections of life in Iran to attending school in the United States to her experiences as a mother. Reading the first chapter, I discovered that she’d published a prior set of memoirs which had been very successful in Iran, despite an entire chapter being censored. Laughing Without an Accent stands on it’s own, but I do really want to get a hold of her first book, Funny in Farsi.

So many of Dumas’s antecedents are hilarious. I love her descriptions of why all the men in her family wear navy blue velar jogging suits to the time when her French husband decided to cook Christmas dinner for her parents. I also love stories from her childhood, such as how she’d entertain herself by listening in on the shared phone line or how every evening her family would go out on the apartment’s balcony and watch the excitement at the neighboring police show, which once contained an entire wedding party who’d been arrested for excessive honking.

“My father always said that hatred is a waste and never an option. He learned this growing up in Ahwaz, Iran, in a Muslim household. I have tried my best to pass the same message to my children, born and raised in the United States. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter where we learn that lesson. It’s just important that we do.”

Although much of Laughing Without an Accent is funny, other points are more serious. Sometimes Dumas is sharing advice and wisdom that’s been important to her own life. Other times she’s talking about difficulties she’s faced. After the revolution in Iran and the beginnings of the hostage situation, Dumas’s father was unemployable and much of American was actively hostile and hateful to Iranians.

“It all happened so fast. It seemed like on Monday, everyone was asking us if our carpets really do fly. Then on Friday, those same people were putting “I Play Cowboys and Iranians” bumper stickers on their cars. I was fourteen, and all this sudden hatred really got me thinking. What type of person would make bumper stickers announcing hatred?”

I definitely recommend Laughing Without an Accent. It’s different from the normal sort of book I read, but I am very glad I picked it up. Even when she’s describing difficulties in her life, there’s just so much humanity in the way she writes. If you ever come across a copy of Laughing Without an Accent, I would encourage you to pick it up.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | Oct 9, 2015 |
I read Funny in Farsi several years ago, and was meaning to get around to this. Finally did when they put it on the feature rack at the library, probably prompted by the arrest/disappearance of her Iranian translator. This was highly readable, a bit compulsive, even. Essays about her experiences, shedding some light on modern American culture (including the translation: “Shake'N'Bake” just doesn't). Really gifted writer. ( )
  Heduanna | Aug 5, 2012 |
Just as good as her first one - "Funny in Farsi". I hope she will continue to write! ( )
  yukon92 | Mar 24, 2012 |
This is a collection of humorous vignettes by the author of Funny in Farsi, primarily centered on the misadventures of her Iranian immigrant family. The chapter about her mother inadvertently attending a New Age empowerment seminar is worth the cover price. This book differs from the first in that a couple of the chapters were clearly written for magazine publication; some of the stories repeat information. Still, a fun, quick read with lots of laughs. ( )
  jclyde | Jan 27, 2012 |
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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 anAmerican 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.

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