|May 2006 Vol. 7 No. 7|
Author Jean Said Makdisi was the Book Club's guest at their last gathering on March 28. This time, the usual literary-based discussion was turned into one about Makdisi herself as the center of attention. Despite efforts to redirect the discussion to an examination of Makdisi's stylistic devices in her book, Teta, Mother, and Me, it became apparent that those present were more interested in the thematic aspects of the book and what it had in common with Out of Place, the biography written by the late Edward Said, the brother of Jean Makdisi.
According to Baalbaki, the comparative theme of East and West is one of the most salient features in the two books, both of which are classified as memoirs. Makdisi commented that, because of this classification as a memoir, it was very hard to write her book. The fact that she was writing about family presented obstacles in choosing what to write and how to write it-and her major concern was to be extremely precise and truthful. If a writer is not truthful, Makdisi said, then "there is no point in writing."
A second theme in Makdisi's book of strong interest to many readers is her portrayal of women. Although she describes the domestic life of Arab women in general, she specifically centers her narration on the life experiences of three-her grandmother, her mother, and herself-and details the similarities and differences that exist between the three generations.
The Makdisi and Said books were not only compared thematically, but also
biographically. The author was asked about her relationship with her brother
and why the descriptions of their father differed in each of the books.
Makdisi's reply was: "Both of us loved our father very much, but
no two siblings have the same relationship with their father." She
spoke of her relationship with Edward as a
wonderful one, saying. "Even though we lived in two separate worlds,
we were brother and sister."
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