“The Arab of the Future”

Today, because Saturday, I’m going to talk about something I read this week: The Arab of the Future, by Riad Sattouf, which you can take a look at here (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015WA0D72/).

I read both volumes available to me through the library, 1 and 2. This is a memoir in comics, and so far it’s been about the author’s childhood in Libya, Syria, and France. Sattouf was born of a Syrian father and a French mother. Most of the story thus far is set in Syria, where Sattouf’s blonde hair attracts a lot of racism and the assumption that he’s Jewish.

If I said “I enjoyed this,” it would give the wrong impression of the work. I found it readable, and it was done very well, but I don’t feel as if it’s a thing to be enjoyed, exactly. The vivid memories contained here are fascinating in their difference, and in their sameness too; Sattouf conveys the terror of being a small child with great accuracy. The emotional punch of comics as a medium brought this story home in a way that I feel prose couldn’t have, and the stillness of image as opposed to film made it stronger yet.

So was it enjoyable? Not particularly. It was difficult and challenging, at least for me. Is it worth your time? Absolutely, I’d say, yes. Easy isn’t the point. If you are purely a reader for entertainment, you might want to give this a pass, but otherwise, it’s well worth the effort to digest. I’ll be thinking about it for a long time.

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