A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978–1992
The Arab of the Future is a touching memoir by talented illustrator and storyteller Riad Sattouf. Published in 2015 by Two Roads and presented over 4 volumes in graphic novel format, The Arab of the Future is an unforgettable story of Riad’s extraordinary childhood.
Born in France to an excentric Syrian father and bookish French mother, Riad’s parents soon relocate to Ter Maaleh near Homs, a Syrian village, to be close to his father’s family. Here, Riad visually documents his earliest memories which are powerfully influenced though his father’s bond with his native country. While Riad’s mother struggles with the way of life in her husband’s village, the political juxtaposition between each of his parents homeland becomes raw and apparent.
Reading the story of Riad’s youth was an educational, gripping and moving experience for me. Through the innocent eyes of an altogether happy child, human relations, religious prejudice and parental love are wonderfully laid bare. There are lessons in this story; acceptance, humour, understanding and tollerance.
Riad Sattouf’s illustrative style is simple, engaging and clever. His pen, ink and colour-coded shadow technique conveys a complex subject with tenderness and emotional accuracy. The dialogue is to the point, relevant and visually interesting.
Learn more about this unique set of graphic novels by watching an excellent interview with Riad Sattouf below. Especially interesting is the developmental presentation of the complex man who is Raid’s well-educated father who only wants the best for his young son while living in a challenging cultural environment.
The Arab of the Future (vols 1-4) is available at Two Roads, or (if you’re lucky like me) at your local library.