…and blonde, and thin, with blue eyes like everybody else! Najla, daughter of literary theorist and public intellectual Edward Said writes about her desire to be anything but Arab in a recent memoir, Looking For Palestine: Growing Up Confused In An Arab–American Family. Her late father, a Palestinian Arab who grew up in Jerusalem and taught English/Comparative Literature at Columbia University, wrote the metaphorical book on cultural studies. Orientalism, one of Said’s most famous books, demystifies western depictions of the Middle East and its cultures. Naturally, identity would be a struggle for one of his children. It was Najla, the creative one. She writes about her difficulty with anorexia and cultural identity but doesn’t forget to include what she is today: equal parts actress, playwright, Arab American (sometimes with a hyphen) and proud New Yorker with a fettish for hummus. She talks to Bob about being more than a label —what her father wanted for the world and almost certainly, his little girl.
-by Kimberly Dawson, producer