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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
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“Sattouf’s story and storytelling [are] irresistible. . . . Living betwixt and between cultures may be Sattouf’s destiny. It was hard on him as a child, and it may remain so in adulthood. But it makes for exceptionally good art.”
―The New York Times
“A deft and devastating graphic memoir . . . both sensitive and biting . . . Along the way, we get a fine-grained, first-person account of the brutality of Syria under Hafez al-Assad and Libya under Muammar Qaddafi.”
―New York Review of Books
“Sattouf is a master of visual storytelling, capable of compressing a great deal of human emotion and contradictions within a few panels. He creates a searing depiction of growing up poor in a country ruled by corruption and religious zealotry.”
“Nothing escapes Sattouf’s curious and vigilant eyes. . . . Using the magic of his visual storytelling, Sattouf becomes a darkly humorous, poignant, and vivid guide into the mind of Syrians.”
―Christian Science Monitor
“Darkly ironic . . . Sattouf’s father is the same immature, posturing figure familiar from volume 1―the family can only trail along in the mercurial patriarch’s wake. Under Sattouf’s pen, this state of affairs becomes an ingeniously apt microcosm of the larger world he grew up in.”
“A darker book than its predecessor, though it’s still drily funny, Sattouf never failing to make the most of the aching gap between his father’s fantasies and reality.”
―The Guardian (Graphic Novel of the Month)
“The scope of Sattouf’s comic is remarkable, taking in the complicated landscape of politics and religion, but it is in the small, human moments that he shines as an artist. . . . The Arab of the Future is essential read that deserves such a phenomenal sequel.”
“This work will undoubtedly win more accolades as the author continues the proposed five-volume series. Readers familiar with Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis will be well rewarded when they pick up this similarly engrossing book.”
About the Author
Riad Sattouf is a best-selling cartoonist and filmmaker who grew up in Syria and Libya and now lives in Paris. The author of several comics series in France and a former contributor to the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, Sattouf is now a weekly columnist for l’Obs. He also directed the films The French Kissers and Jacky in the Women’s Kingdom.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read volume 1 when it came out last year, loved it, but was too lazy to write a review. Now that I've read Volume 2, I have no excuse not to promote this amazing series. Read morePublished 2 months ago by TG
This is volume 2 of an in-progress sseries. It begins as Riad Sattouf, the author and main character, is about to start school at 6 years old. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Gagewyn
I was a huge fan of comic books as a kid (oh for some of those original Superman and Batman editions now…), so I was doubly intrigued when I saw this memoir was presented as a... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Aderyn
A brilliant, moving and funny story of the author's vivid childhood memories when his insecure but caring father takes the family from France to his poor home village in Syria. Read morePublished 2 months ago by ervaret
now personally I LIKE the nuances - the elder brother SUPPOSED to be the protector (and Riads elder brother burning him so badly)
Best to go with the ride and not think... Read more
The beauty of a child's memoir done right is that you see the world through the child's eyes. Even though the child does not know that his environment is difficult and cultivates... Read morePublished 3 months ago by E. Burton
I have not read the first volume of Road Sattouf's graphic memoir of growing up in Syria, so I am unable to comment on how faithful it is as a continuation of that book. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Ms Winston
This is the second volume of Riad Sattouf's graphic memoir. As in the first book, we see Riad and his family (white mother, father from a village near Homs, and little brother who... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jessica Weissman
Politics, poverty, religion--Riad Sattouf covers them all as they relate to his childhood and growing up in Syria, in this illuminating if slightly askew graphic memoir. Read morePublished 3 months ago by D. Chaudoir