About the book, "Laughing Without an Accent"
(Information courtesy of Randhom House)
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.
About Firoozeh Dumas
Firoozeh Dumas was born in Abadan, Iran and moved to Whittier, California at the age of seven. After a two-year stay, she and her family moved back to Iran and lived in Ahvaz and Tehran. Two years later, they moved back to Whittier, then to Newport Beach. Firoozeh then attended UC Berkeley where she met and married a Frenchman.
Firoozeh grew up listening to her father, a former Fulbright Scholar, recount the many colorful stories of his life. In 2001, with no prior writing experience, Firoozeh decided to write her stories as a gift for her children. Random House published these stories in 2003. Funny in Farsi was on the SF Chronicle and LA Times bestseller lists and was a finalist for the PEN/USA award in 2004 and a finalist in 2005 for an Audie Award for best audio book. She lost to Bob Dylan. She was also a finalist for the prestigious Thurber Prize for American Humor, the first Middle Eastern woman ever to receive this honor. Unfortunately, she lost that one to Jon Stewart. Even though, as Firoozeh's dad likes to point out, Jon Stewart wrote his book with a team of writers, while Firoozeh wrote hers, alone, before her children woke up for school.
Critics and readers of all ages have loved her stories. Jimmy Carter called Funny in Farsi, "A humorous and introspective chronicle of a life filled with love—of family, country and heritage."
Orange County Reads One Book (California) selected Funny in Farsi for Community Reads 2004, the City of Whittier (California) in 2005, Cape Ann, (Massachusetts)) in 2006, Palo Alto and Berkeley (California) in 2006, and Dayton, (Ohio), Lamorinda, (California) Wood Dale, Ithasca and Bensensille,(Illinois) in 2008. Funny in Farsi is now on the California Recommended Reading List and is used in many junior high, high schools and universities across the country. You may have also heard Firoozeh's commentaries on NPR or read her pieces in the NY Times, LA Times, SF Chronicle Magazine, or Lifetime Magazine.
For the past five years, Firoozeh has traveled the country reminding us that our commonalities far outweigh our differences…and doing so with humor. She has spoken in conferences, schools, universities, churches, Jewish Temples and Islamic centers. Her travels have taken her from the East Coast to the West Coast, from Harvard University to UCLA. Everywhere she has gone, audiences have embraced her message of shared humanity and invited her back for more.
The Persian version of Funny in Farsi is currently one of the bestselling books in Iran. Firoozeh's second book, Laughing Without an Accent, a series of autobiographical essays, was published by Random House in May 2008.
For more information about Firoozeh Dumas, visit www.firoozehdumas.com