Sunday, January 8, 2017

Laughing Without an Accent

Laughing without an Accent: Adventures of a Global Citizen
© 2008 Firoozeh Dumas
256 pages

In 2003, Firoozeh Dumas charmed readers with stories about her transoceanic childhood, unfolding in both in Iran and the United States in the 1970s. This sequel to Funny in Farsi uses the same basic approach, blending funny stories about her relatives with reflection on the immigrant experience and the human experience in general.  Here, though, a third culture has entered the picture -- that of her French husband's -- and, with more stories about her life as a parent, she is more serious at times.

 I remember her familial caricatures fondly from last year, especially that of her frugalistic father. Here we find him mystifying his son-in-law by presenting him Christmas gifts wrapped in on-sale "Congratulations, graduate!" and "Happy birthday!" wrapper paper --  subjecting the family to various misadventures after attempting to bring home several  "bargain-priced" tables in a purple hatchback, Her mother's enthusiastic but creative use of English also features again. As a parent Dumas writes more seriously, recording her personal triumph in showing the family TV the door; not only did she create precious space for imagination and rest in her home, but her children were spared thousands upon thousands of commercials.  Imagination is important to Dumas; as a college student she is dismayed to realize her fellow students think getting drunk and gyrating is a good time. She'd much prefer a morning walk accompanied with literary conversation. (Her mother attempts to warn off the future husband, stating that Firoozeh never stops reading.) Through the humor and reflection readers are allowed to experience the warmth of her extended family, gathering frequently as they do -- even if it's just to watch The Price is Right and yell at Bob Barker. (Her father's love of bargains makes Price his absolute favorite bit of American television programming.)  

As with Funny in Farsi, I found this simultaneously educational, funny, and cozy.


  1. i can't help but wonder if her husband's great, great, grandfather was a writer, also... (sorry, sometimes i'm beyond my control...)

  2. Oh, I'm sure she would have mentioned it...if nothing else, teasing her husband that he wasn't living up to the family tradition of epic novels!


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