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The Arab of the Future 2: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1984-1985
     

The Arab of the Future 2: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1984-1985

by Riad Sattouf
 

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The highly anticipated continuation of Riad Sattouf’s internationally acclaimed, #1 French bestseller, which was hailed by The New York Times as “a disquieting yet essential read”

In The Arab of the Future: Volume 1, cartoonist Riad Sattouf tells of the first years of his childhood as his family shuttles back and forth

Overview

The highly anticipated continuation of Riad Sattouf’s internationally acclaimed, #1 French bestseller, which was hailed by The New York Times as “a disquieting yet essential read”

In The Arab of the Future: Volume 1, cartoonist Riad Sattouf tells of the first years of his childhood as his family shuttles back and forth between France and the Middle East. In Libya and Syria, young Riad is exposed to the dismal reality of a life where food is scarce, children kill dogs for sport, and his cousins, virulently anti-Semitic and convinced he is Jewish because of his blond hair, lurk around every corner waiting to beat him up.

In Volume 2, Riad, now settled in his father’s hometown of Homs, gets to go to school, where he dedicates himself to becoming a true Syrian in the country of the dictator Hafez Al-Assad. Told simply yet with devastating effect, Riad’s story takes in the sweep of politics, religion, and poverty, but is steered by acutely observed small moments: the daily sadism of his schoolteacher, the lure of the black market, with its menu of shame and subsistence, and the obsequiousness of his father in the company of those close to the regime. As his family strains to fit in, one chilling, barbaric act drives the Sattoufs to make the most dramatic of changes.

Darkly funny and piercingly direct, The Arab of the Future, Volume 2 once again reveals the inner workings of a tormented country and a tormented family, delivered through Riad Sattouf’s dazzlingly original talent.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Jennifer Senior
…Mr. Sattouf's story and storytelling [are] irresistible…Living betwixt and between cultures may be Mr. 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.
Publishers Weekly
★ 07/04/2016
In the second volume of an acclaimed five-part graphic memoir, originally published in France, cartoonist Sattouf captures the discomfiting and occasionally humorous details of his first year in school in a Syria that is casually anti-Semitic and not particularly kind to anyone. Minor infractions against social norms are met with violence, and major infractions are met with much, much worse. Because everything filters through a six-year-old boy’s point of view, the more disturbing moments that Sattouf recounts aren’t bleak so much as confusing, surreal, and sad. The humor is pitch-black, the characters vivid: Nidal, a young boy who sits by his father’s grave and, because of a nervous tic, can’t stop laughing like Woody Woodpecker; a devout schoolteacher with a kindly face who takes particular delight in meting out corporal punishment. 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. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

“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.”
Publishers Weekly

“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.”
NPR

“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.”
Largehearted Boy

“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.”
Library Journal

Library Journal
04/15/2016
French Syrian cartoonist Sattouf follows up The Arab of the Future, a No. 1 best seller in France that got huge attention here, with this graphic-format account of his family's settling in his father's hometown of Homs after returning home from France.
Kirkus Reviews
2016-07-04
The second volume of the author’s graphic memoir presents a portrait of the Franco-Syrian artist as a young boy.This would seem to be a transitional chapter, following the highly acclaimed debut, The Arab of the Future (2015), which presented most of the themes continued here. The young Riad, now a schoolboy in Syria, remains torn between his experiences in his mother’s native France and his Muslim father’s return with his family to his homeland. His father retains a somewhat prestigious position as a university professor but feels he should do better (and readers of the first volume know he could have). With his white-blond hair distinguishing him from his schoolmates, Riad is mocked as a “Jew” and finds himself playing “war against Israel” in order to fit in. “I always tried to be as aggressive as possible toward the Jews to prove I wasn’t one,” he says of these pretend wars. His teachers cross the line from discipline to sadism and seem most concerned with instilling a blind devotion in the Muslim children (to earthly rulers as well as Allah). He receives mixed messages about the impurity and inferiority of women (“they’re more fragile, weaker. Satan enters them more easily”) and the need for them to wear a veil, though no one seems to notice that his mother doesn’t. And he sees the life of the very rich and very poor, though he finds it hard to tell exactly where his family fits given his father’s ambitions and fantasies. A return to France provides some perspective—in the contrast and in the sheer abundance of consumer goods so rare in Syria. Instead of the Jews despised in Syria, his mother’s family hates “the Krauts, the Germans!” Or as they still consider them, “the Nazis!” There’s a lot here for a 6-year-old boy to process, let alone resolve. A solid continuation, but subsequent volumes are sure to provide even more provocative material.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781627793513
Publisher:
Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
09/20/2016
Series:
Arab of the Future Series , #2
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
98,396
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet 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.

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