Oh Night, Oh my Eyes ("Ô nuit, ô mes yeux”), by Lamia Ziadé
From the Egyptian singer and actress, Oum Kalthoum to the Lebanese singer Fayrouz, Oh Night, Oh my Eyes retraces, in the form of a graphic novel, the stories of the Middle East’s greatest artists.
Writer and illustrator
Born in 1968, Lamia Zadié grew up in Beirut in war-torn Lebanon. At the age of 18, she moved to Paris to enrol at the Penninghen School of Graphic Arts. After working for Jean-Paul Gaultier, she became an independent illustrator working in fashion, the press, publishing and cinema. Also an artist, she began to exhibit her erotic paintings in 2001 at the Kamel Mennour Gallery.
Lamia Zadié published Bye bye Babylon in 2010, a novel about her childhood and the Lebanese Civil War, and Oh Night, Oh my Eyes in 2015.
Portraits of great artists
In Oh Night, Oh my Eyes, Lamia Zadié paints a portrait of the greatest artists who have captured imaginations in the Middle East, from the beginning of the twentieth century to the mid-1970s.
Recounting their impressive destinies, she pays tribute in her graphic novel to the Egyptian singer Oum Kalthoum, a young girl from a modest family who began her musical start career dressed as a boy and subsequently became the biggest singer in the East, the Druze princess and Egyptian-Lebanese singer Asmahan, the Lebanese singer Garouz and even the Egyptian belly dancer and actress Samia Gamal.
A masterful novel about the golden age of song and cinema from Cairo to Beirut.
A novel inspired by reality
Lamia Zadié wanted to dedicate her novel to the singer Asmahan. Her research eventually prompted her to extend her novel to discuss all the major artists of the Middle East. She also enriched her book with her two grandfathers’ memories, notably of the beautiful Fayrouz’ impromptu visit to one’s fabric store or the Oum Kalthoum concert experienced by the other.
To accompany the text, 400 of the 576 pages of the novel feature magnificent illustrations drawn in gouache, which bring together princesses, emirs, diplomats, poets, bankers, generals and directors of all religions and nationalities.
A journey through history
Oh Night, Oh my Eyes transports the reader to a disappeared world, on a journey to the largest cities in the Middle East: Beirut, Cairo, Damascus and Jerusalem.
In addition to descriptions of a rich and incredible artistic atmosphere, Lamia Zadié also focuses on the historical backdrop. The exile of King Farouk, the creation of Israel, the nationalisation of the Suez Canal, the fight against the English and the French and the death of Nasser in 1970 are all important events that have changed the course of Middle Eastern history.
Oh Night, Oh my Eyes was translated into Arabic and published in Lebanon by Hachette-Antoine in 2016.
Oh night, Oh my eyes (“Ô nuit, ô mes yeux”) has been translated into Arabic with the support of the Institut français.
Through its translation support programmes, the Institut français participates in the global dissemination of French-language literature.