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 Humanity and Humor

Firoozeh Dumas

An Immigrant Perspective

Noted author Firoozeh Dumas will visit UMD to present a lecture and book discussion, "Shared Humanity Through Humor" on Tuesday, March 2, 2010, at 4 pm in the Kirby Student Center Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public. Dumas has authored two books, Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America, and Laughing Without an Accent: Adventures of an Iranian American, at Home and Abroad.

At the age of seven, Dumas and her family moved to Whittier, California. She later moved back to Iran and lived in Tehran and Ahvaz. However, she once again immigrated to the United States; first to Whittier, then to Newport Beach, California. Dumas attended UC Berkeley where she met and married a Frenchman. Dumas 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.”

Dumas father, Kazem, dominates many of her stories throughout her second memoir, entitled Laughing without an Accent, published in May 2008. She takes pride in her Iranian heritage, but at the same time, mocks her dad's fascination with "freebies" at Costco and television shows like "Bowling for Dollars". Growing up, Dumas struggled to mix with her American classmates, who knew nothing about Iran. She also retells firsthand experiences of prejudice and racism from being Iranian in America during the Iranian Revolution. However, throughout hardships, she emphasizes the significance of family strength and love in her life.

Dumas’ latest memoir, entitled Laughing without an Accent, was published in May 2008. In April 2005, her one-woman show, “Laughing Without an Accent,” opened in Northern California to sold out audiences and ran at Theatreworks in Mountain View, California in 2006. For the past five years, Dumas has spoken in conferences, schools, 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. Dumas travels the country reminding us that our commonalities far outweigh our differences…and doing so with humor.

Alworth Institute presentation of author Firoozeh Dumas

Written by Alicia Stockard

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto,, 218-726-8830

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