Stitched together from a wealth of letters Alex Gibeily wrote to his children at the height of Lebanon’s civil war in the 1970s and 1980s, this beautifully crafted story provides an insight into the pathos and fears of separation caused by the unfolding drama of war, with its many parallels to current bloody conflicts across the world. These typewritten letters are reproduced faithfully and are interwoven with original hand-drawn illustrations by his youngest grandchild, Kyra Gibeily, born more than a decade after Alex’s death. Shedding light on the perspective of a father desperate for his children to lead a better life far from the horrors of conflict, this story is as timeless as it is timely.
Born in Beirut and raised in Alexandria, Alex Gibeily’s dream of attending a university in England was crushed by the outbreak of the Second World War. He worked in a succession of jobs before moving to Beirut where he married Nirvah Cassia (referred to as “Mammy” in the letters) and had three children: Elissa (b. 1958), a naturalised French citizen, Terence (b. 1959), a naturalised American, and Carl (b. 1966), a naturalised Scot. He remained in Lebanon throughout the country’s long civil war, and died in 1990, just a few months before the end of the hostilities.
Kyra Gibeily (b. 2002) is the youngest of Alex’s and Nirvah’s six grandchildren. When she isn’t looking at zooplankton through a microscope, she can sometimes be seen sketching in a corner of Glasgow University Library. Equally passionate about marine biology and art, the undergraduate student tries to keep up with lectures while growing her portfolio. Dear ETC. is her first graphic novel. Click here for the author’s page.