Teju Cole

  • culture October 28, 2021

    Beyond the Grave

    A couple of hours from Beirut, if you’re fortunate with the traffic, you come within touching distance of the Syrian border. A course northward of that brings you through the Beqaa Valley and into Baalbek. We clambered through the palimpsest of ruins in Baalbek—the Assyrian, Roman, Byzantine, and Muslim ruins—and, wary of the proximity to the hot war just a few miles away, wondered if this is how people get kidnapped. That evening, coming back from the ruins, we thought we’d stop in Broummana, and see Edward Said’s grave.

    Literature is haunted by gravesite pilgrimages. The acolyte seeks