University of Vermont

Academic Ceremonies - Convocation

Convocation Speaker

2010 Convocation Speaker
Firoozeh Dumas
Bestselling Author of
Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America

Firoozeh DumasFiroozeh Dumas was born in Abadan, Iran and, in the 1970’s, moved to Southern California with her family. She later 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 both Iran and America. In 2001, with no prior writing experience, Firoozeh decided to write her stories as a gift for her two children. Funny in Farsi was on the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles 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 (she lost to Jon Stewart), and is the first Middle Eastern woman ever to be considered for this honor.

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 selected Funny in Farsi as its book of the year for 2004, as have the cities of Brentwood, CA (2009), Carlsbad, CA (2009, Bensenville, IL (2008), Wood Dale and Ithasca, IL (2008), Dayton, OH (2008), Lamorinda, CA (2008), Berkeley (2006), Palo Alto (2006), Cape Ann, MA (2006), and Whittier, CA (2005).   Funny in Farsi is now on the California Recommended Reading List for grades 6 – 12, and is used in many junior high, high schools, and universities.  Her commentaries have been broadcast on NPR and published in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, and Lifetime Magazine.

In April 2005, Firoozeh’s 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, 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, 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.

Firoozeh Dumas’s latest memoir, entitled Laughing without an Accent, was published in May 2008.

For more information about Convocation, please contact Leslie Logan, Chief of Protocol and Administrator of University Events, at 656-4205 or by email to:

Last modified May 02 2010 07:43 AM

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