Book Review: Out of Place: A Memoir by Edward Said

Out Of Place Book Cover

I got to know Edward Said through a documentary that was produced by Thmanyah company a couple of months ago. The short documentary led me to watch a series of interviews with Edward, and I was astonished by Edward’s language use and expression. I was excited when I found out Edward wrote his memoir before he died, and I decided to read it in English, as it was written, to study his writing style carefully.


I feel like people who are not interested in Edward’s intellectual personality might find the book boring. The reason why I read Edward’s memoir was to understand the circumstances that produced a scholar like Edward. I wanted to know how a person could be so eloquent and what kind of education he received.

After I finished reading the memoir, I understood the circumstances that produced Edward, but it wasn’t as detailed as I was hoping.

Edward wrote mostly about his childhood and the years that preceded his time in the university. In the last quarter of the book, he talked briefly about his life in undergrad and grad school. There was no definite style in the storytelling, as he would occasionally narrate in boring detail and other times, quite briefly. For example, he wrote a couple of pages about a girl he used to date and then would proceed to summarize his first marriage experience in a single sentence.

However, when I think about the time period within which he wrote the memoir, it starts to make sense. Edward, God bless his soul, died in 2003. He wrote the memoir between 1994 and 1999 while fighting cancer. I think writing the memoir was a way of recalling good memories that brought life and joy to him, rather than retelling facts in a sequential manner.

I plan to read Edward’s other books in order to explore his work carefully, and I am at a loss as to whether to read the Arabic translation or read it in its original English.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *