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The Arab of the Future 3: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1985-1987 Paperback – August 7, 2018
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In the third installment of the acclaimed series, the Sattouf family begins to implode under the pressure of Hafez al-Assad's regime and the suffocation of their rural Syrian village.
The Arab of the Future is the widely acclaimed, internationally bestselling graphic memoir that tells the story of Riad Sattouf’s peripatetic childhood in the Middle East. In the first volume, which covers the years 1978–1984, his family moves between rural France, Libya, and Syria, where they eventually settle in his father’s native village of Ter Maaleh, near Homs. The second volume recounts young Riad’s first year attending school in Syria (1984–1985), where he dedicates himself to becoming a true Syrian in the country of Hafez al-Assad. In this third volume, (1985–1987), Riad’s mother, fed up with the grinding reality of daily life in the village, decides she cannot take it any longer. When she resolves to move back to France, young Riad sees his father torn between his wife’s aspirations and the weight of family traditions.
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"God bless whatever Proustian madeleine spurred Riad Sattouf to put pen to paper for his The Arab of the Future series. Over the past three years, the Franco-Arab cartoonist has been producing a truly fantastic serialized graphic memoir about his boyhood in France and the Middle East."
“Essential reading . . . As the series builds in maturity and depth, Sattouf depicts in unsettling detail how political and religious indoctrination can infect even the most well-meaning idealists.”
―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“An excellent addition to a series that for years to come is sure to engage readers of history as seen through a child’s eyes.”
―Library Journal (starred review)
Praise for The Arab of the Future 2
“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.”
Praise for The Arab of the Future
Winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize
"One of the most prominent cartoonists in the world right now."
“Exquisitely illustrated, and filled with experiences of misfortune bordering on the farcical, Mr. Sattouf’s book is a disquieting yet essential read.”
―Carmela Ciuraru, The New York Times
“The Arab of the Future has become that rare thing in France’s polarized intellectual climate: an object of consensual rapture, hailed as a masterpiece in the leading journals of both the left and the right. . . . it has, in effect, made Sattouf the Arab of the present in France.”
―Adam Shatz, The New Yorker
“As the very young Riad Sattouf navigates life in Libya, France, and Syria, he gets a serious education in the mysterious vectors of power that shape not just the political world, but the intimate sphere of his own family. With charming yet powerful drawings and vivid sensory details, Sattouf delivers a child’s-eye view of the baffling adult world in all its complexity, corruption, and delusion. This is a beautiful, funny, and important graphic memoir.”
―Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home
“The hundred-and-fifty-odd pages of Riad Sattouf’s internationally bestselling graphic memoir . . . move with an irrepressible comic velocity. The book is told Candide-style . . . an indictment of the adult world and its insidious methods of diminishment we all have either faced or been fortunate enough to escape.”
―The New Republic
“Engaging and lovely to look at . . . Sattouf has an eye for grimly funny details . . . and milks the disjunction between how he experienced his political environment at the time and how he understands it now for all it's worth.”
―Douglas Wolk, Los Angeles Times
“Sattouf’s work is laced with astute observations of human beings. His memoirs often dwell on their failings: hypocrisy, cowardice, bullying. Yet there’s humour too – mainly because his humans are so helplessly absurd.”
“The Arab of the Future is already being compared to biographical classics like Maus and Persepolis, and the modern relevance of the countries in which it is set is sure to make this a widely talked about book this year.”
“The Arab of the Future maintains a balance of comedy and commentary and …is carried by excellent drawings. Riad Sattouf’s work takes its place alongside other classic animated retrospective memoirs from the region, Persepolis . . . and Waltz with Bashir.”
―The New York Journal of Books
“Seriously funny and penetratingly honest, Riad Sattouf tells the epic story of his eccentric and troubled family. Written with tenderness, grace, and piercing clarity, The Arab of the Future is one of those books that transcend their form to become a literary masterpiece.”
―Michel Hazanavicius, director of The Artist
“The Arab of the Future is a beautifully cartooned story that is both modern and timeless. The protagonist is one of the most endearing in comics. An important book, not just as art but as a window into another culture.”
―Gene Luen Yang, author of American Born Chinese
“The Arab of the Future confirms Riad Sattouf’s place among the greatest cartoonists of his generation.”
“Engrossing . . . Sattouf writes in a fluid prose, beautifully translated by Sam Taylor.”
―Laila Lalami, The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)
“In his comics, Sattouf deftly weaves the political background with the everyday. He tells a personal story but also observes the society and country around him, and his great sense of humor makes reading the book thoroughly enjoyable. It’ll have you laughing to the point of tears.”
“Very funny and very sad . . . the social commentary here is more wistful and melancholy than sharp-edged . . . subtly written and deftly illustrated, with psychological incisiveness and humor.”
―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Sattouf’s account of his childhood is a deeply personal recollection of a peripatetic youth that can resonate with audiences across the world. It also paints an incisive picture of the Arab world in the late 1970s and early 1980s that sets the stage for the revolutionary changes that would grip and roil the region decades later.”
“Wide-eyed, yet perceptive, the book documents the wanderings of [Sattouf’s] mismatched parents―his bookish French mother and pan-Arabist father, Abdel-Razak Sattouf . . . often disquieting, but always honest.”
“Despite his father’s determination to integrate his son into Arab society, little Sattouf―with his long blond hair―never fully fits in, and this report reads like the curious pondering of an alien from another world. Caught between his parents, Sattouf makes the best of his situation by becoming a master observer and interpreter, his clean, cartoonish art making a social and personal document of wit and understanding.”
―Publishers Weekly (starred review, Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2015)
About the Author
- ASIN : 1627793534
- Publisher : Metropolitan Books (August 7, 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 160 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781627793537
- ISBN-13 : 978-1627793537
- Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.44 x 0.72 x 9.32 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #656,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on September 28, 2018
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The book helped me remember how I saw the world as a child, and made me realize how formative the early years are, since children are extremely attentive to the physical and the social world. For example, Sattouf brilliantly captures (through a child’s eyes) the beauty and hypocrisy of different cultures: adults say one thing, but act differently; the Syrians are dogmatic about certain things, but so are the French; moments where we realize people lie, deceive, go back on their word, show weakness, avoid necessary conflict, etc.
Thank you, Riad Sattouf, for reminding me that I learned all these lessons very early in life. Now raising two small children myself, your book came at the perfect moment.
His illustration technique and coloring style is amazing, I read the book viciously in a day because he's a very good story teller. I recommend this book and its sequel to everyone interested in reading a good standalone comic book and learn about the Arab world.
The Syrian-French Riad Sattouf is a truly gifted storyteller, comics writer, and illustrator. The three volumes of The Arab of the Future are revelatory to anyone lacking immediate access to Syrian or Libyan culture and society or, to generalize in a way Sattouf himself would generally avoid, across Arab cultures and societies in the Middle East. I have a small familiarity with the region, knowing it more as a political and international relations theater than at a deep-dive societal and cultural level, but here Sattouf, through a child's-eye view (processed, of course, through an adult sensibility), takes us through to the other side of a door most of us have little or no access to.
In the approximately 450 pp of comics, Sattouf wends his detailed, non-judgmental, autobiographical way through little Riad's adventures, first in Libya under Qaddafi and, later, in Hafez al-Assad's Syria, his father's homeland, where Riad, father Abdel-Razak, and French mother Clementine settle in Abdel's backwater home village, Ter Maalah, near Homs. Riad's difficult adjustment to life in locales very different from France is told sympathetically. With his blond hair and fair looks, he's an oddity who sticks out in most settlngs. This in turns is charming and, at times, upsetting, as the casual violence of children, abetted by a casually violent society, teaches lessons in cultural diversity to the young, sensitive boy, who turns out to be a precocious artist and a virtual savant in school, to the joy of family and the puzzlement and jealousy of age peers, cousins, neighbors.
Riad Sattouf has made comments in interviews about his treatment of his father, whom he idolized as a child and who, we are assured, is treated truthfully and objectively in the trilogy. My sense is that most Western readers will have issues with Abdel and, after taking a doctorate at the Sorbonne, his life choices for himself and his family. I know I did, and am clearly on the side of "this man is an insufferable fool, and his family should leave him before they all wind up dead." Sattouf himself, however, reframes the matter and, in large part, wants his readers to see his father as a more sympathetic character than I've seen him. As a generally descriptive, objective narrator, Sattouf - who for ten years drew a weekly column for Charlie Hebdo, the Parisian satirical weekly at which 12 people died in the terrorist attack of January 2015 - strenuously avoids sensationalizing aspects of Arab Islamic and religious cultures and tries to render all his characters sensitively in their carefully detailed - and this is most important - cultural, social, and political context. At the same time, he doesn't flinch from parts of the story that depict, say, extreme cruelties administered to grade school students in rural Syrian schools, or an honor killing depicting the murder of a favorite aunt at the hands of her family.
These are nevertheless wonderful books that will not be for every taste. Not everyone enjoys comics. Not everyone will appreciate or fully understand many of the disturbing tales Sattouf tells. There is, however, something universal in the stories of families, their interactions with adversity, faith, relatives, adversity, ambition, and with making do in locales and times of considerable privation. And thus I'll hazard to guess that anyone with an interest in the Middle East and the intersection of ME and European cultures will find something of interest in Riad Sattouf's The Arab of the Future.
In a story that has more humor than I was expecting, Riad talks about growing up in Syria with his family. There are stories about his mother constantly trying to get his father to move to France, where she is from. Riad's school seems pretty harsh, with the school master asking the boys to bring in implements for beating them with. Western culture creeps in with the giant toy robot that Riad has his eye on, and the very R-rated 'Conan The Barbarian' starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Riad and his cousins like to pretend they are barbarians themselves, unless a bigger kid comes along.
The thing about a memoir like this is that it can show that childhood has some universal themes worldwide. There are moments of terror, parents can fight, and kids find ways to cope with the world around them.
The art was a lot of fun, and fit the story very well. I haven't read the other two volumes, but I'd love to at some point. This one was a very interesting read.
I received a review copy of this graphic novel from Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt & Company, and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this graphic novel.