Title: I Remember Beirut
Author: Zeina Abirached
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Genre: Graphic Memoir
Source: Personal Copy
It doesn’t take time to read a graphic memoir. However, it does take time for it to settle in your heart and mind, if you allow it to that is. I Remember Beirut is one such memoir – I don’t think it is spoken about all that much as Persepolis or Maus, but it is in the same vein and extremely relevant (sadly) even today, given the times we live in.
Zeina Abirached writes about growing up during the Lebanese Civil War. She remembers things that happened in Beirut and what it was like to be a child in such a time. Zeina remembers all sorts of things – the darkness, being hugged by her mother, the holes in her mother’s Renault, the colours, how her brother loved collecting shrapnel for his collection, and her backpack that had everything she wanted, if they ever had to be on the run.
I Remember Beirut is a book of childhood remembrances as seen through the eyes of a child. A childhood that was partially lost, a childhood that also had so many happy things in it – songs, laughter, and fun in the most unusual ways.
Abirached uses black and white drawings for this book and it works wondrously. Sometimes all you have is pitch black panels depicting what they have to in the most subtle manner. At others, the combination reflecting violence, happy times, or just humour works splendidly, with clean lines and patterns that add the extra touch to the memoir. Also, though quite short it worked for me, and also kept me wanting more.
I Remember Beirut is a marvellous look at East Beirut during the Civil War through the eyes of not only a child, but also involving her family, friends, and slowly coming to some realisations of how life can be during wartime.