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A Beginner's Guide To Acting English Paperback – 2 Jul 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (2 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091922925
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091922924
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 470,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"filled with laughter, wonder and compassion...It plunges us into the vibrant heart of a loud, loving Iranian family and vividly recreates the experience of being a child torn between vastly different cultures" -- The Scotsman, Lee Randall

"written with an admirable lightness of touch and a novelist's eye for comic detail" -- Stephanie Merritt, The Observer

Review

"filled with laughter, wonder and compassion...It plunges us into the vibrant heart of a loud, loving Iranian family and vividly recreates the experience of being a child torn between vastly different cultures"

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 60 people found the following review helpful By A. Marczak TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
A Beginners Guide To Acting English is a memoir of Shappi Khorsandi's childhood, incorporating her move to the UK and dalliance with a fatwa.

The front cover suggests comedy. Perhaps some farce, with quotes lauding Britains Best Young Female Comic.

Within a few pages, I realised that I shouldn't have judged the book by its cover.

To clarify, Shappi is Iranian, she has an older brother, a mother, and her father is a famous satirical poet and cartoonist (in Iran at least). We join the family in Iran; everything is viewed through Shappi's pre-school eyes. Once I'd got over the fact that there was no way that Shappi could have remembered all this detail, and that much of her material must have been passed down from family, I really got into the sights, sounds and smells of Tehran.

The Khorsandis move to London at the time that the Ayatollah takes over rulership from the Shah. The childlike innocence with which Shaparak views everything is beautiful. There is no partisan view, no political standpoint. The view is always "If the Ayatollah met my Baba (dad), he'd find him really funny too."

In London they are dismissed as "Pakis", "terrorists" and suffer other verbal abuse. But Shappi and her brother are still just kids, and play just like kids. Even while the police tell them to disappear because of death threats.

My favourite quote comes as Hadi Khorsandi checks under his car for bombs. "Do any of you know what a bomb looks like?" "No." comes the reply. "Neither do I." But such gallows humour is always followed by a sigh of relief when the car doesn't blow up.

Charming, enjoyable, delightful. These are all how this book should be described. Shappi's affection for her friends, family and her homeland is touching and inspiring.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Ms. B. Harper on 7 July 2009
Format: Paperback
I'm often a little wary of books written by comedians, they don't always tend to be very good at it. This is a total exception though. Shappi perfectly captures the voice of her child self and you find yourself looking upon her world through a 6 year olds eyes. Her story is touching and funny, but also incredibly accessible. A must read for anyone.
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A. Eivazmohammadi on 5 July 2009
Format: Paperback
Absolute genius. I bought this book for 3 reasons:

1) I'm a massive Shappi fan
2) I'm half Iranian
3) I needed something to help me procrastinate from the masses of coursework I have to complete

I started reading at 9pm whilst waiting for Big Brother to start and was so absorbed by the time 9.25pm came that I forgot to even switch on the TV. I was crying with laughter, crying tears of joy for all the sad bits, and cried just a little bit more as the hilarious stories of growing up with Iranian parents (in my case, just the one Iranian influence) reminded me of my own childhood.

Recommended to ANYONE, but beware of getting so hooked that you read the WHOLE thing in one sitting....it's now 5.23am and I just had to share my joy now that I've finished.

RAVING REVIEW FOR SHAPPI.....Fan-bloody-tastic!!!!xx
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is one of the best autobiographies I have ever read. The author has such a light touch, yet there are so many layers. All of which are enclosed in love.
Shapi brings Iran under the Shah before the extremist regime that followed, to life in a way that delights the heart and enlightens. Her huge family all have stories to tell that explain so much about Iranian culture and history. The way that it is written is so clever. The author doesn't shy away from the sadness the fear or the tragedy but manages to weave them into the love, fun, compassion and comedy of her life with her amazing parents, brother, extended family and friends.
She has captured brilliantly the thoughts and emotions and wonderful logic of herself as a child in the middle of a complex political situation, trying to understand what is going on as well as trying to embrace a strange culture. It is clear that love, compassion and generosity of spirit kept this family triumphant in the face of much adversity. I finished this book a little wiser and feeling that there was much we could learn from this amazing family
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By MJSAGAR on 24 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
It is hard to imagine how anyone would not enjoy this book. Having read it shortly before Christmas, I preceeded to buy several copies and distribute them as presents among frineds and family. I'd heard Shappi Khorsandi a couple of times on the radio, and very much enjoyed her style of humour and the attractive presona she managed to present. Both of these attributes were fully evident to an even greater extent in the book, but were set alongside a fascinating view into an Iranian family - indeed an Iranian world, both at home in the lead up to the revolution and the years immediately foloowing Khomeini's take-over, and in the Iranian ex-pat/exile community in London. We follow 5-year-old Shappi and her 6 year-old brother as they move between school(how pleasant to find teachers almost all portrayed as positive people, with an intelligetnt understanding of their various charges) and home-life in a home lively with an endless succession of visitors and made vivid and warm by the twin characters of the calm and beautiful mother and the volatile, passionate, intensely kind and intensely political father. For those who remember the Iranian revolution as a news story those who knows only of post-revolutionary Iran and the dour, clerical face it presents to the west, the picture of a society full of hunour and hospitality and characterized by a range of religious attitudes from the devout to the semi-secular in the days before the revolution is a revelation. Fascinating and revealing, too, is the picuture of Iranian life in exile in London, where people whose every impulse is to be sociable and hospitable on a level unfamiliar to the average English household, find themselves caught up in a polarising conflict, and find their safety and even their lives threatened even in their place of refuge.Read more ›
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