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Laughing Without an Accent: Adventures of an Iranian American, at Home and Abroad | [Firoozeh Dumas]

Laughing Without an Accent: Adventures of an Iranian American, at Home and Abroad

In the best-selling 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.)
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Audible Editor Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

In the best-selling 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 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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

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3.8 (185 )
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  •  
    Sara USA 01-29-14
    Sara USA 01-29-14 Member Since 2008

    I work to keep my reviews free of plot spoilers. I hate reviews that tell you the whole story. That said, I do love reading reviews!

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    "Sigh"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mitra Katy, TX, USA 04-01-09
    Mitra Katy, TX, USA 04-01-09 Member Since 2008
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    "Laughing Without an Accent"

    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

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yvonne Devlin, Ontario, Canada 03-17-12
    Yvonne Devlin, Ontario, Canada 03-17-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What Hoot!"

    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!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Grand Prairie, TX, USA 04-26-09
    Thomas Grand Prairie, TX, USA 04-26-09
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    "Firoozeh Dumas has done it again!"

    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

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Natalie Gaythorne, Australia 09-08-09
    Natalie Gaythorne, Australia 09-08-09 Member Since 2008
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    "A listening pleasure"

    I just finished listening to Funny in Farsi and Laughing Without an Accent and I so enjoyed the books, especially the narration, that I just wanted to let people know that these are great books to listen to. Firoozeh's narration adds another layer to the stories and is especially good when she imitates her mother. So many of the stories crossed all cultural lines and I recognised much of the quirkyness described in the books in my own Australian family. I look forward to her next book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jenny Whitestone, NY, USA 08-11-09
    Jenny Whitestone, NY, USA 08-11-09
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    "Another wonderful insight into a Persian family"

    Ms. Dumas is a fabulous storyteller. I read in hard copy both, Funny In Farsi & LWAA. I laughed and related all the way through, even though I am not Persian. The audio book was entertaining and well done. I enjoyed listening to the real person behind the stories. It's like having the author in your house telling you face to face over chai. Highly recommend.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Atticus North Carolina 01-16-09
    Atticus North Carolina 01-16-09 Member Since 2003
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    "Cute, pleasant"

    I have not read Funny in Farsi. I enjoyed this book but am not tempted to buy her earlier book. This book is light, amusing, and has some truly funny moments. I think it would have been better served by a narrator with a better sense of comic timing.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Molly Encino, CA, United States 09-13-13
    Molly Encino, CA, United States 09-13-13 Member Since 2006

    M.A. in English. Avid reader and listener.

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    "Horrible narration!"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sherrie Mt. Pearl, Newfoundland, Canada 07-04-12
    Sherrie Mt. Pearl, Newfoundland, Canada 07-04-12 Member Since 2012

    Addicted to books in all forms.

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    "Good Enough To Make Me Want To Get Her First Book"

    I found this book to be funny and sweet, but it took a couple of stories before I really got into it. Just when I was ready to give up I became hooked. The author narrates, and I think I have come to the conclusion that authors should not narrate their books. It is not that she does a bad job, so much as it is an adequate job. Nothing wrong but at the same time nothing that makes the entire book come alive for me like some of the professional readers do. The stories made me laugh and one even made me cry, so all in all not a bad choice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristina Paradise, CA, United States 05-06-12
    Kristina Paradise, CA, United States 05-06-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Thoughtful, engaging, and fun to read."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Laughing Without an Accent to be better than the print version?

    I haven't seen the printed version, but certainly think the recorded version would be better since it was narrated by the author. A tiny touch of accent, correct pronunciation of places, names and ideas adds to the experience of the story.


    What other book might you compare Laughing Without an Accent to and why?

    I can compare this to short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri because both authors have a sense to two cultures and express the ideas, confusions, conflicts, humor and life experience in a similar respectful (of both cultures) way.


    What about Firoozeh Dumas’s performance did you like?

    I love her voice and cadence, she is easy to listen to. I think her soft tones and real emotions make the deep moments in the book more memorable. I enjoyed her ability to use a lighter voice and express joy and happiness appropriately.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Living between and within two cultures, with a smile.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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