Teta, Mother, and Me

In 1990’s acclaimed Beirut Fragments, Jean Said Makdisi wrote about life in the embattled Lebanese city — which she still calls home — during its long and ugly civil war. In her new book, Teta, Mother, and Me, written with the same passion and eye for detail, she explores her family history more thoroughly, employing interviews and old documents to lovingly flesh out the lives of her ”teta” (Arabic for grandmother) and her mother. From their stories, we get a unique distaff view of Middle Eastern history — the crumbling of the Ottoman Empire, two world wars, the founding of Israel. One surprise: Makdisi realized that neither relative could be called ”traditional” in the Middle Eastern sense. In fact, both were tough, strong, modern women.

Teta, Mother, and Me
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