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The Arab of the Future 2: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1984-1985: A Graphic Memoir Paperback – September 20, 2016

4.6 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
Book 2 of 2 in the L'Arabe du futur Series

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Product Details

  • Series: The Arab of the Future (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books (September 20, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1627793518
  • ISBN-13: 978-1627793513
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Brad Teare VINE VOICE on September 15, 2016
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a fun read, often disquieting in its frankness, of life as a child in Syria. I had no idea their hatred of Jews was so instinctual, almost like you would imagine the National Socialists indoctrinated their people. Reading this book is like being a bit of an anthropologist, you pick up little shards of culture here and there, but in an entertaining context. The narrative seems genuine but I do wonder at the accuracy of the account. Maybe the author just has an incredible memory (or maybe kept a journal). I certainly can't remember as much detail as he can about his childhood.

The drawings are economical without being impoverished. There is a nice balance of line work with grays and blacks. The overall impression is artistic without being overworked with characters rendered in a cartoon-like,​ abbreviated style. This volume could have used a better cover. While the pages themselves are well designed, using a variety of compositional conventions, I didn't find the cover all that engaging.

Nevertheless, it is a highly readable account of experience as a child in Syria. I would definitely read another volume by this author-illustrator.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have not seen the first volume of this series, so some aspects of this story are not entirely clear to me. At first, I was not impressed with the book. The style of drawing seemed inferior, lacking in expressive power, which I usually hope for in a graphic novel. As I progressed through the novel, however, I realized that the style was consistent with the nature of the narrative and really quite effective.
Assuming that this narrative is autobiographical and for the most part an accurate account of the childhood experiences of Riad, as well as an accurate child's-eye representation of life in Assad's Syria before the present horrors of the multi-sided civil war, the novel offers a powerful and often horrifying image of life in that area. Riad's characterizations of his hapless (and dim-witted) father and his mother—a French woman displaced to Syria by her marriage, struggling unsuccessfully against the pressures of existing in a culture entirely unfamiliar and distorted by the power plays of greedy and grotesque "bosses" and military dictators (small town variety), as well as the great disparities of wealth and poverty—are both shocking and disgusting, though emotionally downplayed by being filtered through the child's still innocent consciousness. But he is learning fast.

Riad's own encounters with sadistic exercises of power by teachers and even by children his own age who perceive him as inferior and helpless are at once familiar aspects of childhood narratives (what bildungsroman has ever portrayed childhood and elementary school as pleasant or even nurturing?), but also strikingly new because embedded in an unfamiliar culture.

I plan to read the first part of this, and hope to see the continuations when they appear.
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Format: Paperback
I think the lasting impression I’ll have from Sattouf’s graphic memoirs is the bleakness of his life in Syria. He makes the land look bleak, the Syrian people look bleak, and finally he makes his home life look bleak. The only exception is the part where he visits his mother’s family in France, at least that gives him a window of hope. But everything else in the book is like being stuck at the bottom of a hole.

In the previous book, Riad Sattouf begins life as a cute well-spoken blond French kid, the son of a French woman and a Syrian Arab academic. First they move to Libya (lousy) and then Syria (awful) where they’re trapped in a society of dirty fields, dirty streets, abused kids, and animal cruelty. His father, a follower of Ba’ath philosophy and Pan-Arabism, is completely delusional. He turns down positions at British universities to take a low-level professorship in Syria, all because of his Pan-Arabist fantasy. Meanwhile, his wife just tolerates it. The people are filthy, the relatives are awful, and the local children are abused at home and take it out on other children. As for Riad, the kids at his school are either abused at home or spoiled rotten.

One of the most prominent things about the story is the difference in Syrian and French child-rearing practices. In France, the toys are all constructive, while in Syria the toys are all plastic soldiers and toy guns. The plastic soldiers are meant to represent Israelis, with reptilian features and nasty expressions. They have a white flag of surrender in one hand, and a knife in the other hand, hidden behind their backs. In France, the children are cared for, while in Syria they’re neglected and beaten constantly.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted to buy volume one when it came out but decided to wait until volume 2 was released - I live in Australia and it takes forever to have it sent over and costs a fortune. So, I received both volumes at the same time and whipped through them in a day. Now I realize that volumes 3, 4, and 5 are in the pipeline. I hate it; I'm not a patient guy.

The story: gut retching. Painfully honest. Frankly, I'd fear for the author's safety. I pray that the title is ironic and the it does not depict the Arab of the future but Sattouf makes it quite clear that change in the Arab world just isn't in the cards.
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