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Bye Bye Babylon

Lamia Ziade
Lamia Ziade

Beirut in the 1970s is a paradise. Wealthy families ride escalators and fill shopping carts with imported food and luxury products from Paris and New York. Lamia Ziadé, seven years old, dreams of banana splits, American candy, flying on Pan Am Airways and visiting the local cinema. Considered by the elite the “Paris, Las Vegas or Monaco of the Middle East”, Beirut was in reality a powder-keg, waiting for a spark.

On 13th April 1975 Lamia and her family returned from lunch in the countryside to find a city in flames. Looking back on the golden days before the war, and its immediate, devastating effects, Bye Bye Babylon positions an elegiac and shocking narrative next to a child’s perspective of the years 1975-79: of consumer icons next to burning buildings, scenes of violence and sparkling new weapons painted in vivid technicolour – war as pop.

Jonathan Cape, paperback, 296 pages, published November 2011  


£14.99  £10.3431 %

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