cover image The Arab of the Future: A Graphic Memoir

The Arab of the Future: A Graphic Memoir

Riad Sattouf. Metropolitan, $26 (160p) ISBN 978-1-62779-344-5

This first part of former Charlie Hebdo columnist Sattouf%E2%80%99s autobiography was a controversial bestseller in France. It follows his early childhood through stints in France, Libya, and Syria, and his cross-cultural alienation from all of them. Sattouf%E2%80%99s father is Syrian, his mother French, and his story recounts the way his father commandeered their family life to reconcile himself with his Arab heritage. Though he is often forced back to France, Sattouf%E2%80%99s father takes teaching jobs in dictator-run Arab countries, then works to convince himself, and his family, that their near-utopian dreams are close to coming true. But through the author%E2%80%99s young eyes these regimes are revealed for all their weirdnesses and hardships. Despite his father%E2%80%99s determination to integrate his son into Arab society, little Sattouf%E2%80%94with his long blond hair%E2%80%94never 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. Agent: Marleen Seegers (Oct.)