Book / Author Review: Laughing Without An Accent, by Firoozeh Dumas

I like her writing because:

She is unembarrassed

I especially like her chapter on The Jester and I, where she talked about her disconnect in college because she was an early-to-bedder while social life in the dorm happens only after dark, her disassociation for dorm activities that typically involved lots of drinking because she yearned for intelligent conversations and discussions on minutiae but could hardly find anyone who shared the same interest or affinity as her despite her attempts to join a church social group because they don’t drink, a group of volunteers who was supposed to practice English on foreigners but hardly spoke any English, a running group who ran too fast for her to keep up with, a group which promoted team spirit at football games except she doesn’t like football and thought that the game is too long, and a whole plethora of other social groups which did not bring her closer to her mission of finding a kindred soul.

On many levels I identify with her. Like her, I am also an early sleeper and can’t stand late night parties. I don’t drink and would rather spend time engaging in meaningful conversations. I have also tried to be open and flexible in my attempt to find like-minded people to connect with, to which end I tried various social activities and found myself leaving promptly within a half hour of disinterest and unmatched expectation.

She is observant

In her junior year in college, she moved into the International House where half the residents were American and half of them were foreigners. The kind of place where an Israeli, a Palestinian, an Italian and an American from Nebraska could eat dinner together and discuss politics, soccer and Bollywood. “If every world leader could spend one year living at an International House, there would be far fewer wars. Of that I am absolutely certain.”

Isn’t that true? If people of different ethnicities, background and citizenship were to spend time engaging one another in healthy and wholesome conversations, there is less reason for us to hate and want to hurt or destroy one another.

She is funny

“During my first week at International House, I discovered one couldn’t spit without hitting someone interesting and smart. Foreign countries do not send their dumbest abroad.”

She is honest

“My first year as a mother was tough, like one of those births where the baby is facing the wrong way and the doctor decides to manually turn him. In my case, it took about a year for me to be straightened out.

I remember wanting to do upper arm exercises ten minutes a day.

I didn’t.

I remember wanting to make homemade baby food.

I didn’t.

I remember desperately wanting to be better than who I was.

But every once in a while I look at my son’s photo album from his first year and all I see is a baby who knew he was loved. I see a baby who was fed, cleaned, and clothed. And I see a baby who did not care that his mom’s buns were not made of steel.”

Again, I identify with her on this part. The many resolves I make to myself which I don’t fulfill.


I then searched for her online, and found this on her website:

“I always thought that in order to be a writer, you had to be English and dead. On top of that, I’m an immigrant and my parents encouraged me to go into practical careers. (“Be a dentist. Everyone has a mouth.”)

I have a few friends who have sold millions of books and who are able to support themselves solely through writing. I am so envious! Most of us have other jobs that pay the bills. I, for example, give speeches. If you are going into writing to make money, don’t bother. You will be far better off becoming a dentist. Remember that everyone has a mouth.”

She is indeed funny.


And this:

“She believes that everyone has a story to tell and that everyone’s story counts.”

That’s my personal belief and motto as a writer too. See, I identify so much with her I’m a fan already.




Note: Words in inverted commas and italics are the mentioned author, Firoozeh Dumas' - they are excerpts from her book and website.