Looking for Palestine

From the Upper West Side to the Middle East: Najla Said on Her New Memoir, Looking for Palestine

Said grew up in the 1980s on the Upper West Side, eating bagels from Zabar’s and surrounded by intellectuals; she attended school across Central Park on the Upper East Side, at sea amid the blonde daughters of privilege. While her father and “temperamental soul mate,” the scholar Edward Said, was arguing for Palestinian self-determination (and her Lebanese mother, Mariam, was managing their daily life), young Najla was gripped by an eating disorder, struggling to reconcile TV news stereotypes of the Middle East with her own eye-opening experiences—including visits to her father’s homeland, where she toured refugee camps in an Agnès B. skirt—and to her mother’s family in Beirut, where she found a sense of belonging.