Elevate Difference

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

Laughing without an Accent is Firoozeh Dumas’s second book, after her debut memoir Funny in Farsi. Dumas is an Iranian-American who writes about the similarities and differences in Iranian cultures through her own experiences growing up in Iran and America. The book is a compilation of twenty-eight vignettes which span her life in both countries. The vignettes portray her childhood, adolescence, and adulthood in the most memorable ways, usually leaving the reader with a smile or laugh before eagerly turning to read the next story.

These days, Iranians are fighting for free, fair, and democratic elections and for their personal rights and freedom. Humor is not the first thing that may come to mind for Americans when thinking about Iranians right now. However, Dumas, who is married to a Frenchman, writes her stories with such ease that humor is exactly what readers find in each story, along with kindness, compassion, love, and sometimes chaos. Almost all of her stories are about her family, and how Persian culture really defines itself in society—or... well... doesn’t (hence, the humor).

One example of calamity is the cultural clash that occurs over a holiday feast her husband cooks for her parents. This is a hysterical but good-hearted read along with her other story of the amazingly bright red comforter that Firoozeh’s mother brought for them that just wouldn’t disappear. Her stories are meaningful because readers, regardless of origin, can relate to the humanity behind her writing.

Dumas’ descriptive skill gives her the leeway to explore her characters more freely, and set a peaceful tone for her readers. She challenges us to look beyond the dissimilarities and focus on the similarities which bring us together. She cleverly uses humor, grace, and respect for the written word as her instruments in one unique symphony. The music that she creates is our laughter—some with accents, some without.

Written by: Mona Lisa Safai, July 16th 2009

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