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Najla Said, photo by Brigitte Lacombe
Najla Said


NYS Writers Institute, October 28, 2014
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus
8:00 p.m. Reading | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus


Najla Said, author, actress, playwright, and daughter of leading Palestinian-American intellectual Edward Said, will read from her new memoir, Looking for Palestine: Growing Up Confused in an Arab-American Family (2013), on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 8 p.m. in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m., the author will offer an informal seminar in the Standish Room of the Science Library on the UAlbany uptown campus. Free and open to the public, the events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute.


Najla Said
is the author of the new memoir, Looking for Palestine: Growing Up Confused in an Arab-American Family (2013). The daughter of major Palestinian-American intellectual and political activist Edward Said, Najla spent her formative years in the largely Jewish milieu of Manhattan’s Upper West Side. A witty exploration of post-modern, hyphenated American identity, the book opens with the playful statement, “I am a Palestinian-Lebanese-American Christian woman, but I grew up as a Jew in New York City.” At the same time, the book is a poignant and candid account of what it is like to be a member of a group viewed with suspicion by many Americans.

Kirkus Reviews called the book, “An enlightening, warm, timely coming-of-age story exploring the author’s search for identity framed within the confounding maze of America’s relationship with the Middle East.” Publishers Weekly said in a starred review, “Her complex persona, self-deprecating humor, and focus on the personal rather than the political broaden the appeal of Said’s book beyond any particular ethnic, cultural, or religious audience.”

Lookin for PalestineJimmy So of Newsweek / The Daily Beast included the book in his June 2014 list of “Brainy Beach Reads,” and introduces it as follows: “The scholar Edward Said was born in Jerusalem when it was Palestine under the British Mandate, immigrated to the U.S., was baptized an Episcopalian, supported

Palestinian independence, married a Lebanese Quaker, and became a prominent professor at Columbia University. No wonder his daughter, Najla, was conflicted about her identity. If Edward’s Orientalism provides the intellectual framework for understanding postcolonialism, Najla’s memoir, Looking for Palestine, is the other side of the coin, as those same complex forces tug her life in multiple directions while she tries to understand who she is.”

Najla Said also wrote and starred in the very successful, one-woman, off-Broadway play, Palestine (2009), which provided the basis of the memoir. The New York Times theater reviewer said, “to a topic that generates fury and recrimination, she brings a lightness and a steadfast refusal to hate.” Said frequently employs humor—which she describes as an important coping mechanism for her family— in discussing serious and painful subjects, including racism, cultural dislocation, and social inequality.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.