Beirut, I Love You

Beirut, I Love You

A Memoir


9780863564154 March 2009 Paperback 224pp

About the Book

This is the story of Zena, a young woman who finds herself under the spell of a city that threatens to engulf her in war, grief, alcohol, Prozac and love affairs.

In the streets armed militias carve out their territories, while ragged construction workers rebuild the city. Refugees sleep five to a bed as bleach-blondes with matching nose jobs wend their way to the next drug-fuelled supernightclub. At any moment, the bombs will start falling.

Meanwhile, Zena and her best friend Maya must try to make sense of their lives amidst the craziness, and negotiate the city’s many obsessions including cosmetic surgery, husband hunting and Kalashnikovs.

As honest as it is forgiving, this artist’s memoir pits love and art against the ever present threat of war.

About the Author

Zena el Khalil, born in 1976 in London, has lived in Nigeria, London, New York and Beirut. She is an installation artist, painter, curator and environmental activist. During the July 2006 attacks on Lebanon, her blog received international acclaim. It was publicised on news portals such as CNN and the BBC and excerpted in the Guardian and Der Spiegel online. She lives and works in Beirut.


‘El Khalil brings the city and its current events to life through personal anecdotes and love for this conflicted, beautiful place she calls home’
Gwyneth Paltrow

‘Sensual and visceral, you will smell, hear and taste Beirut’
Time Out, Beirut

'Less the work of a writer, and more like a book written by an artist, Beirut, I Love You is crammed with metaphor and creativity'
Forward Magazine

'The author's varying tones of passion and detachment heighten the emotional effect. Like Baghdad, which has somehow always survived, El Khalil defies defeat. Her unflinching inside view of Beirut's tragedy and of "Amreekan" duplicity underscore why her 2006 blog received international attention.'
Publisher's Weekly

'Here, the dichotomies of East and West Beirut, Muslim and Christian, Arab and Phoenician, and pre and post-war (among others) are brought to life with a simplicity and cheek that only the likes of El Khalil could pull off.'