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A Beginner's Guide To Acting English [Paperback]

Shappi Khorsandi
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)

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A Beginner's Guide To Acting English A Beginner's Guide To Acting English 4.3 out of 5 stars (72)
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Book Description

2 July 2009
In the tradition of Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love and Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals, comes a story of a young narrator in the midst of her eccentric family. But rather than landed gentry or bohemian travellers, it’s a mad extended Iran clan who flee Tehran to 1980s Britain after the fall the Shah. Five year old Shappi and her beloved brother Peyvand arrive with their parents in London - all cold weather and strange food - without a word of English. If adapting to a new culture isn’t troubling enough, it soon becomes clear that the Ayatollah’s henchmen are in pursuit. With the help of MI5, Shappi’s family go into hiding. So apart from checking under the family car for bombs every morning, Shappi’s childhood is like any other kids – swings in the park, school plays, kiss-chase and terrorists.


Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (2 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091922925
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091922924
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 13 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 405,159 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming, Enjoyable, Delightful 14 Sep 2009
By A. Marczak TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant - I couldn't put it down! 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
5.0 out of 5 stars I cried from cover to cover!!!! 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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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I have read in years 1 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I cannot remember the last time I read a book like this. It was hard to put down, it brings a lump to your throat then a smile to your lips in the course of one page, sometimes in just one paragraph.

When I finish a book it normally goes to the local charity shop but this one has been added to the 4 or 5 special books saved on my shelf because I know I will want to read them again later.

Shappi tells the story of how it was like to be a five year old growing up in a strange country. Not knowing what anyone was saying to her. Eating strange sandwiches made from white bread that tastes like foam and yellow rubbery cheese.

Of how scared she was when her family had to go into hiding from hit men but even that brought a smile when I realised her father was telling everyone where he was hiding so they could still call round to see him.

Even if you only buy one book this year, make sure its this one
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a typical comedian's book... 24 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback
I am a huge fan of Stand Up comedy and only bought this based on a few short viewings of Shappi on Live at the Apollo etc. I have read a few books by comedians before but this one really stood out and was not really what I expected at all - a pretty serious but nethertheless entertaining view of Shappi and her family's triumphs and woes when leaving their home country of Iran and moving to London in 1979 instead of the typical sarcastic (but funny) autobiographies of most comedians.

A really excellent read - could not put it down at all!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addictively wonderful! 11 Jan 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
This book drew me in with its warmth and love from the beginning. Shappi's family is the backbone of this book, her love for them just shines through everything. It is written from the viewpoint of the growing Shappi, life through the eyes of a 6 year old, coming from Iran to our customs and traditions here. It was funny, it was sad, it had me laughing out loud and feeling like crying in almost equal measures.
A thoroughly enjoyable read, just be warned, it's very hard to put down!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating, clever memoir 26 July 2010
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Other reviewers seem to have chosen this book because they know Shappi Khorsandi through her acting and comedy work. I confess that I had never heard of her until I saw her being interviewed by Mariella Frostrup on the Book Show. Her descriptions of life growing up as an exile from Iran were vividly told and affecting, so I decided to read her book. I was not disappointed. Khorsandi's father was a hugely famous figure in the Iran of the sixties and early seventies, writing prolific poetry, satires and journalism that often highlighted the injustices of the political regime. Leaving to further his career in London he suddenly became an exile when the Ayatollah came to power and issued a fatwa against him.

Shappi's memoir is that of a young woman growing up split between two cultures, understanding neither of them fully and often at sea in a world of grown up politics and family issues. She writes vividly of what it is to be a child, the wish to fit in, the pride at being different, the bullying, and the difficulties of trying to explain what life is like to those who have absolutely no comprehension of the culture from which you come. She is funny, touching and erudite. The weaving of the larger picture of her family history, set against the backdrop of the revolution and then war in Tehran is beautifully handled and highlights the oddness of her other life in Ealing perfectly. I loved this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Because I'm Shappi....Shappi
I'm a big fan of Shappi and am going to see her show in a couple of weeks. I'm also a supporter of the My Stealthy Freedom website. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Andrew Robilliard
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
:)
Published 19 days ago by Caroline Charles
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book from an amazing author
Great book from an amazing author. The book was packaged well. I ordered 2 more copies and gave them to my friends as presents.
Published 2 months ago by Michaela Secanska
4.0 out of 5 stars thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening
I have struggled to put this book down! It gives us an insight of what it is like to come to the UK and fit in as well as a real appreciation of the lives that families have had to... Read more
Published 2 months ago by SME
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and informative
This book exceeded my expectations so I gave it to my sister for Christmas. I haven't asked her what she thought of it, but I recommend it as a good read.
Published 3 months ago by Miss G.S.Borrill
5.0 out of 5 stars one of my favourites
loved this book - what a fantastic family; brave, funny and interesting in equal measures! i wished she'd have written another installement!
Published 5 months ago by Honeybob
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and Relatable Book
This is a well-considered work of memoir/autobiography that will be relevant for anyone who knows Iranians or is Iranian, or those looking for insight into Persian culture and... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Lauren
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
A heart-warming, easy and funny read; the story of Iranian refugees brought up in London. Loved the references to life in Iran, the food and culture and laughed out loud a few... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Tati
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny and insightful
Shappi Khorsandi is a witty and intelligent storyteller. She evokes the story of herself and her family with grace, generosity and the humour that only deep insight can bring. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Devi
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
This book was supposed to be a gift, but I would have wanted to read it first. Fortunately, it was delivered quickly enough, and also in excellent condition.
Published 13 months ago by Nathalie
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