This bouncy follow-up to Funny in Farsi has too much heart to be shrugged off as froth. Humorist Firoozeh Dumas resists playing gimmicky Western misperceptions of Islamic culture for gags. Instead, in Laughing Without an Accent, she affectionately chronicles a childhood in Iran, teenage years in Southern California, marriage to a French man, and her doting, nutty Persian family's diligent attempts to adapt to life in "Amrika". "The velour navy jogging suit is my male relatives' default attire," Dumas notes. "After all of them had acquired second and, in some cases, third pairs, they started getting catty."
Teasing out the absurdity underlying ordinary situations is the introspective Dumas' cup of tea, particularly when she reinvents her parents' quirks as universal comic zingers, rather than progress reports on their cultural assimilation. When her father turns eighty, 51 relatives cram aboard an Alaskan cruise ship, where they're tailed by the crew's pricey shutterbug. "My father...kept interrogating relatives about the number of photos they had purchased," observes Dumas. "Then converting that to Iranian currency and letting them know what that money would have purchased in prerevolutionary Iran."
Laughing Without an Accent is, I'm sure, wry and lively in its written form. But as narrated by Firoozeh Dumas a 2005 Audie Award finalist in her creamy-textured, toasted licorice voice, it upgrades to an indelible personal account. Dumas uses even pacing, few pauses, and a soothing, chatty tone to build intimacy. Her warm honeysuckle inflections groove with character-specific dialogue and she's most animated when narrating sections in Farsi, her lyrical native tongue, or imitating her mother's charmingly accented English. ("Vat? Eez very good.") She is such splendid company that when Dumas reflects "this feeling of being on the outside has shaped me into the perfect party guest", it seems even she must know she eez better than just very good. Nita Rao
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 51 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.
©2008 Firoozeh Dumas; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
"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)
I don't review every book--only books I feel strongly about--hence the many 4-5 star vs 1-2 star reviews. Just my opinions--hope they help.
I wanted to like this book. It just seemed so superficial and weak that I just couldn't listen past the first few chapters. A total disappointment.
M.A. in English. Avid reader and listener.
Occasionally it is fine when authors decide to narrate their own books, but there is a reason why they have professionals for this sort of thing. I wanted to listen to the whole story because it seemed like it would have been interesting, but I couldn't get past the first couple of chapters because of the narrator's voice.
Listening to Laughing Without an Accent; by far was one of my most pleasurable experiences. I was constantly mesmerized by author's undaunting wit; her colorful descriptions of the events; and her genius selections of the themes. I think Firoozeh stories bring humor and joy to not only Iranian-Americans but also all the immigrants to this wonderful land. I can not wait to listen to her other book Funny in Farsi
I Love this author and will listen to anything she writes (then reads) She has a great sense of humour, and laughs readily at herself, even sharing cringe worthy details of her life. Love how she gets into family and culture and ties it all together in her stories letting us in on her past the good and the bad. The only thing I wasn't thrilled with was her stories aren't in any order that I could see, they seemed to jump around the time line a lot. So there was some overlapping and backtracking. However, that aside, I would recommend this book highly and again have to say would love to meet her and spend some time with her and her famiy!
Entertaining, enlightening, enjoyble and genuinely funny as Firoozeh Dumas one again leads us through trails of an Iranian and French family's life in America. Pieces of this adorable read could be the account of any American with children...tough days! The red spread story is very typical of a mother's love and desire to please, while the food stories regal us with visions of lamb's head...all entertaining and fun! Looking forward to her sequel. Peggy Davis
The most important thing to know about this book is that it is a book of vignettes - not a novel with a story line that follows through from beginning to end. That being said, the stories were witty and sometimes quite funny. I had not read the first book but I don't know if that is why I felt like I was constantly missing something (a bit like leaving the theater to buy popcorn and coming back not knowing what happened).
The author reads the book. She is a novice but, at the same time, the language skills required to read a book of this nature are rare. I don't think it would have been the same had someone else attempted it.
What I enjoyed most was the insight in to life in Iran (pre-revolution) and the little bit of insight in to life for Iranians living in America during the hostage crisis.
I wish I had read the first one prior to reading this one.
Nope. Current public sentiment in the US is too ignorant to accept something like that.
Took me a while to get into it, but Firoozeh is really funny. Since it's not a thriller or mystery, but rather short stories, I'm able to come back to it when I have some free time and I want to be entertained. This book almost feels like Firoozeh is your friend, though she's a bit older than me. She talks about this and that and has no trouble making ANYTHING into a funny, enjoyable story. I'm not quite done with it yet, but I find myself enjoying every minute. I wish she and I could be friends! I even checked out her and her family on google images and I can see that others have the same. Firoozeh is candid, very open and she really shares of herself in her storytelling.
This is a laugh-out-loud book about the experience of Iranian immigrants to the US... you will laugh if you know anything about American culture, anything about Middle Eastern culture, anything about being a misfit in any society... anything about family life... it's a great book!
Because it's just a collection of stories with no particular linkage between one and the other, there are some strange jumps where you don't know what happened to cause the change (e.g. she did not used to drink alcohol, but then she was drinking it; we don't know how she married her husband, even though we know about how they first met... things like that! But it's not meant to be a fully-fledged memoir, I guess)
I had not read the author's previous book - but I am looking forward to that now!
I like the culture-clash genre and this is a good example. Comes across as a humorous and sweet collection of remembrances of a family's challenges living in a new land. Entertaining but lacks cohesion.
The story is charming and an easy listen, but the book would have been better served if the audio book producers had found someone other than the author to read the book. Her inflection and cadences were tedious... I can't imagine that she actually talks like that, but she falls, as do so many, into an artificial way of speaking when she reads aloud. What a shame; the book is, as I said, charming.
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