Shirley Saad

(1947 - )


Born in Cairo to a Lebanese father and a Polish-Rumanian mother, Shirley Saad grew up feeling torn between her European education and her Arab environment and roots. She attended St. Clare’s College, a school run by Irish nuns where Arabic was not spoken. French, Turkish, and Italian were favored over Arabic and Shirley only studied the language for a few years when it became a mandatory course in all schools. In 1961 Shirley went to Lebanon, where, surprised that all Lebanese spoke Arabic, she began to study it more seriously. Shirley sat for her GCE’s at the British Council in Beirut and took some courses at the University of California in San Diego. She began writing when she lived in Abu Dhabi, where she felt limited by the hot weather and social customs. She finds great freedom living in California. Shirley Saad now teaches at the University of California San Diego, she has also reviewed books for United Press International.