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My Great Arab Melancholy

My Great Arab Melancholy

by Lamia Ziadé

Translated by Emma Ramadan

Award-winning illustrated chronicle of the modern Arab world, combining travelogue, memoir, history and gorgeous full-colour art

My Great Arab Melancholy is a beautiful, tragic and award-winning book from Lebanese writer and illustrator Lamia Ziadé. Blending the author's years of research, personal memoir and more than 300 illustrations, this compelling history of the modern Arab world explores the major thinkers, struggles and turning points that have shaped the Middle East as we know it today.

Ziadé begins in South Lebanon, 'land of martyrs, ruins and passion', before taking the reader further afield, to Beirut, Jerusalem, Cairo and Baghdad. The book moves from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day, tracing the Arab world's tragedies and the derailing of dreams and possibilities caused in large part by Western imperialism and the conquest of Palestine.

Within these pages there are the blasts of explosions, blood, tears and tragedy, cemeteries, wreaths and ribbons, martyrs and paradise. Ziadé unearths the buried memory of resistance fighters and their lost ideals. In haunting prose and unforgettable images she celebrates the progressive, bold, revolutionary moments and figures of the Arab world's recent past.

Lamia Ziadé is a Lebanese author, illustrator and visual artist. Born in Beirut in 1968 and raised during the Lebanese Civil War, she moved to Paris at 18 to study graphic arts. She then worked as a designer for Jean-Paul Gaultier, exhibited her art in numerous galleries internationally, and went on to publish several illustrated books, including My Port of BeirutMa très grande mélancolie arabe which won the Prix France-Liban, Ô nuit, ô mes yeux and Bye bye Babylone.

Emma Ramadan is an educator and literary translator from French. She is the recipient of the PEN Translation Prize, the Albertine Prize, two NEA Fellowships, and a Fulbright. Her translations include A Country for Dying by Abdellah Taïa, Zabor, or the Psalms by Kamel Daoud, Panics by Barbara Molinard, and The Easy Life by Marguerite Duras.

'A stunningly stylish, breathtakingly evocative tribute in words and art to the cosmopolitan Levant that exists in defiance of war and empire. I treasure my copy.'

- Molly Crabapple, artist and author of 'Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War'

'... a personal, impassioned account ... evocative, personal texts with illustrations whose bold, colorful style seems to hark back to hand-painted movie posters'

- 'The New York Review'

'Lamia Ziade works as an alchemist'

- 'Elle'


- 'Ms Magazine'
Published by Pluto Press in Jan 2024
Paperback ISBN: 9780745348155

170mm x 235mm