Said’s Bookshop, Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon

Since I was the Edward Said Chair of American Studies, I had to go visit.  But no, he was not related to that Said — there are lots of Saids in Lebanon.  And those Saids, these days, are chiefly in the Makdesi clan.   The way that he kept his shop was charming.  It was always clean, though on a rather dusty street, and he stocked a wide variety of non-Arabic magazines and books and postcards, some of which dated to to the 1970s.  He would let you browse for 15 minutes before he came over to ask if he could help.  He knew his stock extremely well, and if you asked for something he knew exactly where to look.  I always wanted to buy more from Said’s Bookshop but it wasn’t really a bargain – it was just more real than Antoine’s, the European bookstore on Hamra Street.

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