Shappi Khorsandi's one of my favourite comedians, and last year vanessaw
and I went to see her show at the Soho Theatre, so I was interested to read her book. A Beginner's Guide to Acting English
is a memoir of her childhood and her family's move from Iran to England. It's a warm, fun family story, which is impressive considering after the Iranian revolution her father, a satirist, was an official enemy of the Ayatollah, and parts of the story are overshadowed by the threat of assassination. As with a lot of stories that come from a background of dual British/other nationalities, it's funny for me to see connections to my own upbringing. Judging from this book, Iran doesn't share as many familiar figures with Greece as, say, India does (despite the difference in cultures, years ago when the British Asian comedy show Goodness Gracious Me
was on TV, my sister and I could associate almost all of the recurring comedy characters with somebody we knew in Greece) but there are still moments of recognition. Especially in the omnipresent extended families and univited guests - despite the circumstances being so far removed from anything I've experienced, the biggest moment of recognition for me was in the chapter where, having got wind of a terrorist threat, the family go into hiding with express orders from Scotland Yard not to tell even their closest friends where they are. Within a couple of days half the Iranian population of London has moved into the B&B. It's not quite the laigh-out-loud boook you might expect from a comedian but she's very good at drawing you into her world and it's well worth a read.