Tue, June 6, 2006 6:30 pm at Alwan for the Arts
Alwan for the arts Presents
Jean Said Makdisi TETA, MOTHER, AND ME: Three Generations of Arab Women Reading/Book Signing/Q&A
Tuesday, June 6, 2006, 6:30 PM Open and free to the public
What does it mean to be a "modern" woman in the Arab world? Set against a backdrop of political upheaval in Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, and the United States, Jean Said Makdisi's breathtaking memoir TETA, MOTHER, AND ME: Three Generations of Arab Women contemplates this very question and lovingly chronicles the unsung private histories of three generations of women in her family. Jean, her mother, and grandmother witnessed extraordinary and unsettling times. They lived through events that "redrew maps, shifted populations shook confidence in an environment that would not stand still, that created terrifying situations and bewildering changes in expectations, in ways of life, in morals and customs." Munira Badr Musa, or "Teta", the only grandparent that Jean ever knew, was born in 1880, a subject of the Ottoman Empire. She raised her family during World War I and its aftermath, during which the French and the British divided up the Arab spoils of the defeated Ottoman Empire. Jean's mother, Hilda Musa Said, who "opened her eyes to war," was born in 1914, lived through several wars and upheavals, and died in 1990, when the war in Lebanon, the experience of which she shared with Jean, was in its sixteenth year.
In TETA, MOTHER, AND ME, Jean Said Makdisi elegantly weaves this deeply distressing political history, punctuated by the lingering effects of colonialism, with family history, and the emotional and cultural journeys of three generations of Arab women: "As I sorted out the details of Teta's and Mother's lives, tracing my consciousness through theirs, I discovered that we women had made history as much as it had made us, that our lives and our very being were intertwined with it, knotted up in its tangled webs. The result has been for me a complex re-reading of my life, and the lives of other women of my generation."
Jean Said Makdis was born in Jerusalem and studied in Cairo and the United States. She is the author of Beirut Fragments: A War Memoir, a New York Times Notable Book. She lives in Beirut.
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