Out of Place is an extraordinary story of exile, a narrative of many departures, a celebration of an irrecoverable past. A fatal medical diagnosis in 1991 convinced Edward Said that he should leave a record of where he was born and spent his childhood, and so with this memoir he rediscovers the Arab landscape of his early years--"the many places and people [who] no longer exist . . . Essentially a lost world." Vast changes occurred as Palestine became Israel, Lebanon was transformed by twenty years of civil war, and the colonial Egypt of King Farouk disappeared forever by 1952.
Born in Jerusalem in 1935, Said was the only son in a prosperous family of five children. His ferociously demanding father upheld many Victorian values and ideals, and his adoring mother inspired his love of music, theater, and literature. His aunt Nabiha gave him his first sense of what it meant to leave Palestine, something never discussed by the family. Said writes with great passion and wit about his family and his friends--from schools in Cairo and summers in the mountains above Beirut to, as he grew older, camp in Maine, boarding school in Massachusetts, and college at Princeton University. Underscoring all is the confusion of identity as Said had to come to terms with the dissonance of being an American citizen, a Christian and a Palestinian, and, ultimately, an outsider.
Out of Place reveals an unimaginable world of rich, colorful characters, of exotic eastern landscapes. Lyrical and beautifully crafted, it is often extremely frank as well as intimate and humorous. Said has exposed a most personal past, letting us observe the people who formed him and who enabled him to triumph as one of the most important intellectuals of our time.
Out of Place won the New Yorker Book Award for nonfiction in 2000.
Book News Annotation:
Said writes with great passion and wit about his early life in the Middle East and the US in the 1930s and 1940s, sharing his journey from schools in Cairo and summers in the mountains above Beirut to camp in Maine, boarding school in Massachusetts, and college at Princeton University. He tells of his lifelong process of coming to terms with the dissonance of being an American citizen, a Christian, and a Palestinian. Said is a professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University. He is the author of 17 books, including Orientalism, which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
"Absorbing. . . . An almost Proustian portrait." --The New York Times
"Said has turned the writing of a memoir itself into perhaps the most profound type of homecoming a perennial exile can know." --The Village Voice Literary Supplement
"If autobiography is above all a means of explaining one's self to oneself, then Out of Place . . . must be seen as a triumph." --The Boston Globe
About the Author
Edward W. Said is University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is the author of seventeen books, including Orientalism, which was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. Orientalism, Culture and Imperialism, Covering Islam, Peace and Its Discontents, The Politics of Dispossession, Representations of the Intellectual, and The Question of Palestine are available in Vintage paperback.