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

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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 between France and the Middle East. In Libya and Syria, 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.


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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 between France and the Middle East. In Libya and Syria, 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.

30 review for The Arab of the Future 2: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1984-1985: A Graphic Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    One of the best comics of the year, no question! In Volume 2, Riad, in his father’s hometown of Homs, Syria, goes to school for the first time. He's maybe 6? Not much of huge significance seems to happen at first, it's quite episodic, but over 152 pages you get indelible impressions of what it was like for him to be a kid in that country in 1984, the accumulated effect of which ranges is disturbing. Riad has blond hair, so kids think he is Jewish and want to beat him up; he’s regularly a victim o One of the best comics of the year, no question! In Volume 2, Riad, in his father’s hometown of Homs, Syria, goes to school for the first time. He's maybe 6? Not much of huge significance seems to happen at first, it's quite episodic, but over 152 pages you get indelible impressions of what it was like for him to be a kid in that country in 1984, the accumulated effect of which ranges is disturbing. Riad has blond hair, so kids think he is Jewish and want to beat him up; he’s regularly a victim of bullying by kids who among other things torture frogs by tying them to bike wheels. The town of Homs is dingy, with evidence of poverty everywhere. We learn of kids neglected and dying. Hafez Al-Assad is the dictator at the time who got 100% of the vote, no dissent. His Dad, a scholar who studied in France that everyone calls doctor, is pretty crazy in a generally goofy way through most of the first two volumes, and he defends the customs of this sad place out of nostalgia and. . . tradition. He's largely amusing, though over time, he's less and less funny. To save money the four in this family live in a largely unfurnished apartment, use a camp stove to cook with, even though he claims they have thousands of dollars saved up. They buy a stove from a guy that walked it on a camel three days from Lebanon. Black market rules. And then Dad kills sparrows to eat for a meal, which also seems barbaric. Riad’s teachers seem anywhere from mildly to moderately psychotic, one of them beating them brutally on the hands with a stick for mild infractions like talking in class or tardiness while she alternates hateful expressions with grinning. He becomes sort of a emblem of unquestioned patriotism and xenophobia. Riad’s Mom is French and sort of speaks for us in being outraged about everything we see. Clearly in France, where they visit, the food is better, there are more opportunities, everything seems to be better. Sattouf lives there now. There is one incident I shouldn’t reveal too specifically that is especially telling, that turns the relatively light comic tone of the memoir to darkness in this volume. I’ll say that it is something most of us know about, an “honor killing” that also comes to involve Riad's father and the extended Sattouf family. Until this happens, the tale seems generally paced as if it were just some episodic memoir, but the accumulation of what seems to be relatively minor acts of cruelty and barbarity leads us to this honor killing. The sense of how women are treated is inexcusable, as Sattouf gradually and compellingly makes clear. One of the last images of this volume is of Riad's mother protesting to her husband about this situation. Sattouf is one of the best cartoonists in the world now. His comics timing and sublety are exquisite. Before this he had done four or more comics series, he worked at Charlie Hebdo, but this would appear to be his magnum opus. It sure looks like it. Here’s a master storyteller at work in a volume that is even better than the first one, one of the best comics of the year. Get on board!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    Riad starts school in Syria while his mother demands modern appliances for their flat, sending her husband to the city to buy a washing machine and gas stove. Riad’s father begins making connections with important officials and plans for his family’s luxury villa… Riad Sattouf’s The Arab of the Future, 2: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1984-1985, is an utterly fantastic follow-up to the amazing first book - this series is shaping up to be a modern masterpiece like Persepolis! There’s no other wa Riad starts school in Syria while his mother demands modern appliances for their flat, sending her husband to the city to buy a washing machine and gas stove. Riad’s father begins making connections with important officials and plans for his family’s luxury villa… Riad Sattouf’s The Arab of the Future, 2: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1984-1985, is an utterly fantastic follow-up to the amazing first book - this series is shaping up to be a modern masterpiece like Persepolis! There’s no other way to say this: Syria is barbaric. We saw some pretty shocking things in the first book but this second book really shows how completely fucked up this country is (or was - maybe it’s different today? Probably not). There’s corporal punishment in Riad’s school where kids got their hands smashed by the teacher’s stick, while the kids are even more violent, tying live frogs to the wheels of a bike and splattering them as they ride! Riad’s father tries to show his son what a real man he is by hunting sparrows with a shotgun(!) - the amount of meat on a sparrow is just pathetic and the shotgun shells are beyond overkill for such tiny birds. As silly as Riad makes his dad look at times, there’s genuine love for the man, particularly as he’s shown more often than not working hard to make life less dismal in Syria for his French wife. There’s far more darkness in this memoir than I’d expected. One poor kid, Omar, with a burned face (from tea left carelessly lying around where babies crawl - a problem in rural Syria apparently) who befriended Riad, got beaten all the time for smelling bad (his family lived in abject poverty) though forced himself to smile through all of it. And then one winter he starts coughing and can’t stop, until one day he doesn’t come to school. Ever again. It’s quietly heartbreaking but that’s nothing compared to the shocker in how women are treated. I won’t go into that particular scene here because readers should experience the full impact firsthand but to call Syrian women second class citizens is an understatement - it’s like they’re almost on the level of animals! The brilliance of these memoirs is how insightful they are in showing us what real life in a country many readers will not know about is like. From the five to six hour power outages every day, to the worn-out doctor fed up with dealing with superstitious women who, tragically, only go to him when their babies are dead, Riad is informative but always entertaining too and his stories are filled with memorable characters and moments. As sad as some of these episodes are, this book really is an absolutely captivating, powerful, sharply realised, and moving read - you know you’re in the hands of a masterful storyteller when they make you deeply care about a story you wouldn’t necessarily think would usually be for you. The Arab of the Future, 2: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1984-1985 is highly recommended - easily one of the finest comics of the year!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Salam

    As a Syrian, I found a lot of exaggerations in the description, it is true that there are underdeveloped persons in Syria but not to this degree. Mr. Sattouf treated a segment of society that represents a very rare case. He showed the people as barbarians who are far from civilization entirely, dirties, racists. Perhaps and unfortunately for him these samples were in his village but that never reflects the reality of the Syrian society. What is more annoying is that he shows himself as the smarte As a Syrian, I found a lot of exaggerations in the description, it is true that there are underdeveloped persons in Syria but not to this degree. Mr. Sattouf treated a segment of society that represents a very rare case. He showed the people as barbarians who are far from civilization entirely, dirties, racists. Perhaps and unfortunately for him these samples were in his village but that never reflects the reality of the Syrian society. What is more annoying is that he shows himself as the smartest and most beautiful boy among children . However , the presence of blond child is possible in Syria and it is not rare. I do not want to defend my community. I know it is full of mistakes, but I'm sad by the image painted by Mr. Sattouf on Syrians.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    Volume II is a continuation of the adventures of Riad as a young French-Arab in Homs in the mid-1980s. Riad is still a child, blond-haired and six years old. He is ready to go to school for the first time, and is terrified. With good reason, it turns out. Sattouf positively outdoes himself drawing scenes from the classroom. The headscarf-wearing teacher has a skirt so short and legs so large that our eyes widen in fear. Riad takes a frame to zero in on the impossible narrowness of her high heels, Volume II is a continuation of the adventures of Riad as a young French-Arab in Homs in the mid-1980s. Riad is still a child, blond-haired and six years old. He is ready to go to school for the first time, and is terrified. With good reason, it turns out. Sattouf positively outdoes himself drawing scenes from the classroom. The headscarf-wearing teacher has a skirt so short and legs so large that our eyes widen in fear. Riad takes a frame to zero in on the impossible narrowness of her high heels, her calves looming dense and heavy above, like a boulder snagged over a walkway. She looks dangerous. That is to say nothing of the smile she holds a second before she strikes the boys on the palms with a wooden rod. Nothing so thin as a ruler, her tool is a rod that looks very solid and hard in her hand."Ha, ha, [Riad’s father chortles that evening] you’re funny. You’re just like me at your age. Scared of everything…Don’t worry, nothing will happen." More false words were never spoken. Lots happens, and much of it is life-threatening. But perhaps most importantly we see the utter cruelty with which people treat one another. If there was ever a time to be grateful for political correctness in our daily interactions, after reading this you will breathe a sigh of relief for those tedious niceties. You will remember the menace of schoolyard bullies, and realize Arab society, in Syria at least, is taught this is normal human behavior: to be admired if you win, killed if you do not. Sattouf takes his time with this installment of the story of young Riad. We spend a couple of days sampling the coursework in first grade: patriotic songs, basic characters for writing, reading skills without comprehension, and inventive slurs and punishments. We meet the neighbors: a police-chief-cousin whose stash of gold jewelry could finance a bank, and whose home is a huge unfinished concrete pile cratered with moisture-seeping cracks. We go on a day trip to Palmyra with a general while Riad’s father spends his time trying to wrangle the general into “putting in a word” for his advancement at the university where he works. Palmyra is littered with ancient-looking pottery shards which Riad’s father disdains. "In the third century after Jesus Christ [Riad’s father says dully, lighting a cigarette] Zenobia turned the nomad’s city of Palmyra into an influential artistic center."Riad returns to France and enjoys it at the same time he begins to realize he is changing…has changed. He is a desert child now, confused with the plenty that surrounds him in France. It is a poignant section we all recognize for its dislocation. He does not read or speak French particularly well. The French language is difficult, and complicated. Where does Riad fit in? Where does he belong? Where will he be accepted? The scenes of RIad with the men in his community when he returns to Homs are memorable. Very little is said; the drawings do the work here. I did not understand all that was implied, but someone will. Perhaps the punchline will be revealed in another installation of the life of Riad in Syria. Riad’s father is becoming more and more unbearable as a husband, as a father, as a man. He is hopelessly out of his league wherever he is, and always aspirational, never in control. His wife is losing patience, and he himself is recognizing a few hard truths that have him sitting by himself in some frames, smoking and silent. Sattouf leaves us feeling unsettled and unsure. Do we want Riad in this place with these people? I think his mother is feeling similarly unsure. The father…one gets the sense that however much the father thinks he is the man, there is precious little he does control. This installment just cements my sense that this kind of graphic novel may be the easiest, most immediate, most fun way to learn about a culture. When it is done well, a boatload of information can be transmitted in a couple of frames. Sattouf appears to be completely frank about life in Homs as he sees it, and it is remarkable for its insights as well as its humor. I love this series and will insist upon reading everything about Riad growing up. The Tintin series was the first set of books Riad had access to, the series being only one of two books his academic father had in his personal library. The other book was the Quran. Will look to see if I can see the influences from Tintin in Sattouf’s marvelous story of growing up Arab before his third book hits the stands. The terrific translation of this work is done by Sam Taylor, and the U.S. publisher is Metropolitan Books, a division of Henry Holt.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I read Volume 1 of this graphic memoir series at the end of December, and made my way to Part 2 this week. The story was still fresh in my mind, and immediately picked up where it left off, with young Riad and his family in Syria. Sattouf continues to tackle big issues in a changing Syria (his childhood is in the early 1980s): family and animal abuse and neglect, vast disparity of wealth and access to basic services, and a very disturbing - yet sanitized version through his 6-year old eyes - of a I read Volume 1 of this graphic memoir series at the end of December, and made my way to Part 2 this week. The story was still fresh in my mind, and immediately picked up where it left off, with young Riad and his family in Syria. Sattouf continues to tackle big issues in a changing Syria (his childhood is in the early 1980s): family and animal abuse and neglect, vast disparity of wealth and access to basic services, and a very disturbing - yet sanitized version through his 6-year old eyes - of an honor killing of one of his female cousins. Serious and even brutal storytelling, but done in a light visual cartoon style. It's quite a juxtaposition between cartoon and content.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    In this second part, the very slow pace of this autobiographical graphic novel is particularly striking (Riad is now 6 and 7 years old, we are back in Syria); as a result, the pedagogical aspect of this novel becomes more visible: Sattouf wants to give the reader (undoubtedly the Western reader) insight into the basic data of life in an Arab country; together with the little Riad we learn Arabic (French is much more difficult), and we are introduced both formally (in school) and informally (thro In this second part, the very slow pace of this autobiographical graphic novel is particularly striking (Riad is now 6 and 7 years old, we are back in Syria); as a result, the pedagogical aspect of this novel becomes more visible: Sattouf wants to give the reader (undoubtedly the Western reader) insight into the basic data of life in an Arab country; together with the little Riad we learn Arabic (French is much more difficult), and we are introduced both formally (in school) and informally (through statements from his father and other children) into the world of Islam. At the same time, Sattouf clearly highlights the ugly aspects of life in an Arab country (in this case Syria). Again a lot revolves around the father figure, and he remains very ambiguous: he continues to put up a very conforming picture of himself as a great intellectual, a true Arab, a real man, the boss over his wife and kid. But through the eyes of Riad we clearly see the false appearance of this, and we see how in reality he is constantly humiliated. And once again, the mother figure remains problematic: she is getting more angry now, but she continues to go along with the Arabic story.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Eric Anderson

    The books in the graphic memoir series “The Arab of the Future” make me feel like a child about to read the new Harry Potter or see the new Star Wars film. I look forward to them with so much anticipation and read each new volume immediately. The second volume is published in the UK this week! These books are such a joy to read for their lively and expressive drawings and engaging stories that present the author's wide-eyed innocent look at his cross-national childhood. In this volume his family The books in the graphic memoir series “The Arab of the Future” make me feel like a child about to read the new Harry Potter or see the new Star Wars film. I look forward to them with so much anticipation and read each new volume immediately. The second volume is published in the UK this week! These books are such a joy to read for their lively and expressive drawings and engaging stories that present the author's wide-eyed innocent look at his cross-national childhood. In this volume his family move back to Syria (the place of his father's birth) when Riad is six years old. He goes to school for the first time learning Arabic from his tyrannical teacher and French from his mother at home. Meanwhile his professor father claims he'll build his wife and children a palatial home on a desolate plot of land they own, but as the time ticks by no progress is made. Sattouf presents his family and experiences with wit, humour, intelligence and great emotion. Read my full review of The Arab of the Future 2 by Riad Sattouf on LonesomeReader

  8. 5 out of 5

    Marie-paule

    you take a young Syrian, you give him a good education, he leaves in France, marries a french woman and behaves like a french person. Now you bring him in Syria, with friends and family around, violence and radicalism, and he becomes a different person. This is scary and shows that unfortunately education is not enough to fight obscurantism. women are the first victims, how can you imagine that a dad and his son can kill their daughter and sister with a pillow because she is pregnant !! how can you take a young Syrian, you give him a good education, he leaves in France, marries a french woman and behaves like a french person. Now you bring him in Syria, with friends and family around, violence and radicalism, and he becomes a different person. This is scary and shows that unfortunately education is not enough to fight obscurantism. women are the first victims, how can you imagine that a dad and his son can kill their daughter and sister with a pillow because she is pregnant !! how can the world be so mad, crazy, sick !! the graphism is good, the story is told from a kid voice with some humor, but the whole story is pretty sad and scary. It is also frustrating to see that the young french woman does not react to this new life: why ? is it love or fear ? ... maybe a tome 3 will tell us more

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    Definitely still liking this series. What makes it work for me is the wealth of observed detail, and the child's perspective that young Riad brings to everything. His family is clearly making the best of a bad situation. As in the first volume, I have some sympathy for his father, who seems unwilling to give up on his dreams long past the point where most would have thrown in the towel. It could be a stubborn unwillingness to admit that he was wrong, but it seems more like some boundless optimism Definitely still liking this series. What makes it work for me is the wealth of observed detail, and the child's perspective that young Riad brings to everything. His family is clearly making the best of a bad situation. As in the first volume, I have some sympathy for his father, who seems unwilling to give up on his dreams long past the point where most would have thrown in the towel. It could be a stubborn unwillingness to admit that he was wrong, but it seems more like some boundless optimism that keeps him confident that a better life is just around the corner. I see we're in for at least one more volume. Does anyone know how long this series is? Just curious. I'm definitely up for however many of these Sattouf plans on creating.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth A

    This graphic memoir picks up where the first volume left off, and the family has now settled in Riad's father's hometown of Homs. The author starts to attend school and tries to fit in, but this is Syria under the dictator Hafez Al-Assad, and with his blond hair the author is often mistaken for a Jew, and is treated in ways that shouldn't surprise anyone. Being a child in an adult world is bewildering in the best of times, and I love how we get glimpses of moments small and large in young Riad's This graphic memoir picks up where the first volume left off, and the family has now settled in Riad's father's hometown of Homs. The author starts to attend school and tries to fit in, but this is Syria under the dictator Hafez Al-Assad, and with his blond hair the author is often mistaken for a Jew, and is treated in ways that shouldn't surprise anyone. Being a child in an adult world is bewildering in the best of times, and I love how we get glimpses of moments small and large in young Riad's life, juxtaposed with the politics, religion, and poverty of the environment he now inhabits. His awful teacher reminded me of many nuns of my youth, and with her headscarf, she even looked like my tormentors of old, albeit without the short skirts and high heels. There should be a support group for kids who endured these type of teachers. In some ways this is the ordinary life of an ordinary child, but this particular child is lucky enough to also get exposed to different ways of being in the world. The art style is not one I love, but it gets the point across, and I really like how the colors used evoke the appropriate mood for the various settings in this book. How often do we really think about how much children are affected in ways large and small by the whims of their parents? This thought provoking memoir does just that. I highly recommend this series, and cannot wait for the next installment.

  11. 5 out of 5

    First Second Books

    This graphic novel series about growing up in the Middle East continues to showcase a window into a very different way of life than we're used to in America -- with some thoughtful moments and commentary from the author, and engaging artwork. This graphic novel series about growing up in the Middle East continues to showcase a window into a very different way of life than we're used to in America -- with some thoughtful moments and commentary from the author, and engaging artwork.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Blue

    A great second installment of the Arab of the Future saga, a personal and humorous approach to a childhood spent in Syria and Libya in the mid-80s. Sattouf continues the telling of his rather blissful childhood, despite the unfinished house his family lives in (waiting for his father to start building the much anticipated villa, while his mother cooks meals on a camp stove), his bumbling father (who's a bit of a talker rather than a do-er), the deranged bully at school (who is convinced young Ri A great second installment of the Arab of the Future saga, a personal and humorous approach to a childhood spent in Syria and Libya in the mid-80s. Sattouf continues the telling of his rather blissful childhood, despite the unfinished house his family lives in (waiting for his father to start building the much anticipated villa, while his mother cooks meals on a camp stove), his bumbling father (who's a bit of a talker rather than a do-er), the deranged bully at school (who is convinced young Riad is Jewish due to his blond hair), the sadistic teacher (who likes to hit the kids' hands with a long stick every chance she gets). There is so much here that resonates with my childhood that I could not stop laughing at some points. For example, the fact that Riad's father and other men get in fights about payment (rather, that his father should NOT pay for something he is buying or a visit to the doctor's office) is hilarious, unbelievable, yet so very familiar! I remember sitting for half an hour at dinner tables in restaurants where the heads of families argued just who will foot the bill, no, no way, we're paying, no ustad, you cannot pay, it's on me this time, no, no you're both wrong, I'm paying... and on and on and on... Only the children seemed embarrassed by this behavior so common to the adults. Of course, new generations are more relaxed, just splitting the bill! My elementary school teacher used to hit our hands and our knuckles, and sometimes even our wrists with the wooden ruler stick, so I know exactly the cringe-worthy anxiety of waiting for the stick to meet flesh and bone. Some memories are refreshing and funny, like Riad learning Arabic, and then finding French much more difficult and illogical. His excursions with his grandma in France are a hilarious contrast to his life in the Middle East (even his hunting experience with his father and a rifle is at steep odds with hunting for eels in the sand with a stick with his grandma). But it is not all fun and games, Riad learns, when a relative, perhaps his first "art teacher," who kindly explains to him one-point perspective using the drawing of a soccer field, comes to a very tragic end. There is a lot left to ponder, too, mainly because Riad is a child and his information is lacking about what is really going on. A sweet boy who walks 3 miles to Riad's school does not return to school the next semester, and we have no idea why, but have a strange feeling that something bad might have happened to him. Sattouf's drawing style is minimalist, yet expressive. He captures the vast emptiness of half-desert landscapes very well. The half-built structures, electricity lines that are sometimes the only sign of civilization, the posh holiday resort hotels with their empty bars, the giant, cracked villa of the local general and his bored wife... These things are rendered in just enough detail to fulfill a sense of place and even clime. Arab of the Future 2 is highly recommended for those who like humor, history, and learning languages. I'd caution against getting this for anyone who might be sensitive to anti-semitism or anti-Israel stuff, as there is quite a bit of that (I don't think any book about the Middle East would be honest if it did not have strong sentiments on the subject expressed by some, if not all, of its characters.) Thanks to the publisher and LibraryThing for a free copy of the ARC for my honest review. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  13. 5 out of 5

    B. P. Rinehart

    The Arab Of The Future in school This book looks at the events around the first year of school for Riad Sattouf. Much of what I said in my review of the previous volume applies here. This sees him adapting to primary school in the al-Assad dictatorship. It also see how the traditional dynamics of the village play out. His blond hair still makes him stand-out, but he is learning how to fit in with his peers, and Syrian life, better. While the limited scope of this novel is more or less his school The Arab Of The Future in school This book looks at the events around the first year of school for Riad Sattouf. Much of what I said in my review of the previous volume applies here. This sees him adapting to primary school in the al-Assad dictatorship. It also see how the traditional dynamics of the village play out. His blond hair still makes him stand-out, but he is learning how to fit in with his peers, and Syrian life, better. While the limited scope of this novel is more or less his school life, we do get some sharply contrasting moments (view spoiler)[including the honor-killing of his cousin who first inspired him as an illustrator--powerful/gut-punch scene (hide spoiler)] . The narrative-style in this book reminded me of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in the way Sattouf really starts to make the narration reflect his younger-self more as oppose to a straight, omnipresent first-person. We're beginning to see rumbles of his mother's frustration with Syrian-village life; I can't wait to see where this goes.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Hina

    This book was even better than Part 1 in my opinion! Because it's a direct continuation from the previous one, the author doesn't need to spend a lot of time setting up the characters and storylines. He directly gets in to the story and uncovers even more in the Muslim-Arab world. Focusing on honor killings, child abuse, Muslim propaganda against Jews and the West - in the political time we're currently living through, this book should be required reading for all to really see what goes on in th This book was even better than Part 1 in my opinion! Because it's a direct continuation from the previous one, the author doesn't need to spend a lot of time setting up the characters and storylines. He directly gets in to the story and uncovers even more in the Muslim-Arab world. Focusing on honor killings, child abuse, Muslim propaganda against Jews and the West - in the political time we're currently living through, this book should be required reading for all to really see what goes on in the Muslim world.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Zoe's Human

    I'm starting realize how well suited memoirs are to the graphic novel genre. Much as with the first of this series, this was both troubling and fascinating. Even more so in light of current events. The third book was just published in France, so I think I may have a bit of a wait for the English version. I do wonder how the life he experienced in a single rural community compares to the life lived in the country as a whole. I'm starting realize how well suited memoirs are to the graphic novel genre. Much as with the first of this series, this was both troubling and fascinating. Even more so in light of current events. The third book was just published in France, so I think I may have a bit of a wait for the English version. I do wonder how the life he experienced in a single rural community compares to the life lived in the country as a whole.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kenny

    The childhood of Riad continues in this volume as his Dickensian schooldays are told with ludriciously stark details and alarming candour as he grappled with his twin heritage of having a French mother and a Syrian father.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    This is the second volume of Sattouf’s childhood memoir and given the pace there might be who knows how many more volumes to come. Luckily, the graphic memoir grows increasingly entertaining and provocative. In the year plus of this volume, which mostly takes place in Riad’s father’s home village in Syria, Riad begins school, starts to read the Koran, observes his parents bicker over things large and small (honor killings and appliances), and enters that phase of childhood where independence cre This is the second volume of Sattouf’s childhood memoir and given the pace there might be who knows how many more volumes to come. Luckily, the graphic memoir grows increasingly entertaining and provocative. In the year plus of this volume, which mostly takes place in Riad’s father’s home village in Syria, Riad begins school, starts to read the Koran, observes his parents bicker over things large and small (honor killings and appliances), and enters that phase of childhood where independence creates one’s own meaning while leaving him vulnerable to external risks, from bullies to strangers to teachers with a tendency to beat children. Rural fundamentalism, opposition to Israel that seems no different from anti-semitism, extreme poverty, political and economic corruption, Assad pere’s dictatorship—imagine requiring public praise from your staff; how, what’s the word? Sad—all get a child’s eye view, one that seems to escape’s Riad’s father, who is intent on protecting his university career and his place of stature in his village. The storytelling and drawings are engaging and objections I had to the first volume regarding reliability of narrator didn’t seem to bother me with this volume. Sympathetic relatives, neighbors, and school friends who look out for each other balanced some of the negativity of other elements. In any case, I welcomed the “To be continued…” at book’s end and now eagerly await The Arab of the Future 3.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bogi Takács

    This one worked quite a bit better for me than the previous volume, but a lot of my comments there still apply (including the warnings). The mother is becoming a more comprehensible character who actually says a lot and does many things instead of just constantly rolling her eyes. The father is also becoming more well-rounded, and I have Feels about this because he looks quite a bit like my dad at his age. There are more positive moments than in the first one, I think, but some of them lead to t This one worked quite a bit better for me than the previous volume, but a lot of my comments there still apply (including the warnings). The mother is becoming a more comprehensible character who actually says a lot and does many things instead of just constantly rolling her eyes. The father is also becoming more well-rounded, and I have Feels about this because he looks quite a bit like my dad at his age. There are more positive moments than in the first one, I think, but some of them lead to truly awful developments in the second half of the book. I also still remember my first visit to a department store in a Western country, I was about his age and had a very similar reaction :D And the smuggling. Some of the translation seems either clunky or deliberately exoticizing, I mean even Arabic phrases which have very common English equivalents like "Thank G-d" or "G-d willing" are translated like "Thanks be to G-d" and "if G-d wills it". [Spelled out in the original, it is just my custom not to spell it out] (I'm sorry I'm very brief these days, and I haven't had longer posts at all, but I had a bunch of deadlines at the end of Jan, and now I'm having quite an amount of health trouble and various dental procedures. Augh. I do want to briefly jot down my most important thoughts about each book though, and maybe I'll expand later.)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sotiris Makrygiannis

    Is the time of the year that if i want to keep the 100 books, need to read some comics as well. This could have been my years, during 80s in Greece, so similar issues at school and so much the same life, minus the connections of powerful generals.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nı§hca

    Hands down The Best Graphic novel I have read so far!! Honestly I have no idea now about how to properly describe the brilliance of this book. I believe that Some of our fellas have already described all the greatness of this book here on GR much better than I could ever do so I'm just gonna say few things that I experienced while reading this amazing second volume of Arab of the Future series by Riad Sattouf, without giving you any spoiler or hint about it. First of all my opinion may not be ve Hands down The Best Graphic novel I have read so far!! Honestly I have no idea now about how to properly describe the brilliance of this book. I believe that Some of our fellas have already described all the greatness of this book here on GR much better than I could ever do so I'm just gonna say few things that I experienced while reading this amazing second volume of Arab of the Future series by Riad Sattouf, without giving you any spoiler or hint about it. First of all my opinion may not be very valuable to you as I have only read 21 comics/graphic novels so far so I'm still a newbie in this medium but I do think that having read some classic DC books like Batman Year one, kingdom come or books by some well known authors like Grant Morrison or Ed brubaker, I can still give my opinion of why this book is so different and better than my all the previous reads and why it's one of the finest creation in the comic medium of storytelling. - Many times while reading my previous comics, I said to myself "how many pages has left? So that I could get rid of this comic and pick something else" but this was the first time where I checked the pages and got worried that it's going to end. This was around 150 pages book which I could finish in one sitting but I intentionally took six days to finish it just because I wanted to enjoy it as long as possible and didn't want it to end. - In all my previous comic reads, there were always some useless panels that doesn't add anything to the story or some dialogues that were totally unnecessary and doesn't add anything in any aspect of those books but in this book there was not a single panel or single line that's useless. Every panel has something important and every line tells us something meaningful that adds to the overall segment of book which I have seen first time. - This is the only book that made me feel every single human emotion that I have known in my life. I was laughing to the death in some pages and in some pages my heart literally stopped in fear and pain. There were some pages where I got so uncomfortable or stunned and there were some pages where I was about to cry out loud. Sometimes it tells some of the darkest events in such a simple and comic way and every moment is full of insane level of attention to details. Every single character of this book brought something special and unique and made me feel some kind of emotion for them. The writing and Artwork of this book is perfect example of "Beauty of Simplicity". He write very simple lines, he draws very simple cartoons yet it goes straight into heart of the reader. There is something magical about his Art that I can't describe in words but It really feels so real and alive and makes you feel like you're inside the panel. His writing is so engaging that there was not a single second where my attention diverted which is very rare when I read comics. This is one of those book where at first you get the feeling that this is not your thing and you wouldn't care about this story but once you start reading, it ends up staying in your heart forever. The first volume of this series is the reason I am still reading comics and writing this review today. If you have a friend that doesn't read Graphic novels or wants to, this book would be the best way to show them what this graphic medium is capable of doing in storytelling. Give this series a try and I am assuring you that you won't forget the experience of this book for a long period of time. Thank you!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Aris Keshav

    Super awesome, both whimsical and philosophical, I loved this comic book rendition of the author's childhood growing up in Syria in the 1980s! I just found the book on the side of the street in Montreal and it was a sweet surprise. Super awesome, both whimsical and philosophical, I loved this comic book rendition of the author's childhood growing up in Syria in the 1980s! I just found the book on the side of the street in Montreal and it was a sweet surprise.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Oneirosophos

    Seriously, this is one of the best GN's ever made! Seriously, this is one of the best GN's ever made!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lippes

    Phew - a tough one! But what would you expect? Amazing to paint this kind of youth in such a story and to tell it this way!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    A continuation of the author's childhood in his father's home village in Syria. There's depredation and violence amongst extended family members. An interesting memoir that I'll continue reading as the next in the series becomes available at the local library. A continuation of the author's childhood in his father's home village in Syria. There's depredation and violence amongst extended family members. An interesting memoir that I'll continue reading as the next in the series becomes available at the local library.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Noor Alsarraj

    This is so..Syrian!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    The sequel to L'Arabe du Futur obviously had tremendous expectations to live up to, and by and large it does so with aplomb. The second French-language work I've ever been able to read cover to cover, L'Arabe du Futur 2 continues to be written in straightforward, easily understandable French that's suitable for mid-level readers like myself (don't speak French? Never fear, an English version is on the way in September). While I've given both books five stars, I'll admit a slight preference for th The sequel to L'Arabe du Futur obviously had tremendous expectations to live up to, and by and large it does so with aplomb. The second French-language work I've ever been able to read cover to cover, L'Arabe du Futur 2 continues to be written in straightforward, easily understandable French that's suitable for mid-level readers like myself (don't speak French? Never fear, an English version is on the way in September). While I've given both books five stars, I'll admit a slight preference for the first. I think this mostly has to do with how unique and fascinating I found it; the sequel, bringing back the same characters and the same settings, was bound to suffer a little in that department. Still, it tells an engrossing story through the eyes of its hero, Sattouf himself, who is now seven years old and attending school in a tiny town outside of Homs, Syria, in the mid-1980s. We meet more of his relatives (including a cousin with a particularly tragic fate), some upper-echelon members of the Syrian military, his school friends, and his teachers -- a woman whose pleasant demeanor seems to conceal a rampant sadistic streak, and who is eventually replaced with an even more terrifying man that barely speaks. Sattouf's avatar is older and a bit wiser in this book, and he better comprehends what's going on with the adults around him, particularly since he, like his father (but, crucially in a few passages, not like his mother) can understand both French and Arabic. This gives Sattouf the opportunity to make observations that are in some cases more cutting than in the first book, but still delivered with a childlike simplicity that often leads to double-takes as the reader digests what it really is that he or she has just read. The New Yorker article on Sattouf, which I read when it came out and re-read recently, cites several critics who make a very important point: it's vital to understand that this is a single vision of the Arabic world during those times, as recounted by a man who left those countries for good in his teens and has lived in Paris for several decades. This is not to say Sattouf's work is dishonest, but it's important to remember that one is gaining an understanding of a *single life* lived in this world, and not all of the lives. It would be foolhardy and, honestly, tragic to assume that Sattouf's story is representative of all those who lived there in the same period. Still, L'Arabe du Futur 2, like the previous book, remains an absolutely fascinating glimpse into that world. I'm very much looking forward to volumes three and four which, from what I understand, will turn an equally critical eye to life in French housing projects. Sattouf skillfully balances humor with cutting criticism, along with surprisingly compelling cartoon work. I enjoyed this book thoroughly, and would recommend it to anyone without reservation.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Keen

    4.5 Stars! This is a book packed with some cracking one-liners and deft observations. The young Sattouf seems to find himself in a world made up of a series of hidden horrors lying in wait. In many ways it's the small details that really bring this alive and lift it off the page, like the scars on the children from being burned by precarious tea cups of careless parents to the protective plastic footwear the kids have to wear at school during the wet weather. Once more Sattouf beautifully captures 4.5 Stars! This is a book packed with some cracking one-liners and deft observations. The young Sattouf seems to find himself in a world made up of a series of hidden horrors lying in wait. In many ways it's the small details that really bring this alive and lift it off the page, like the scars on the children from being burned by precarious tea cups of careless parents to the protective plastic footwear the kids have to wear at school during the wet weather. Once more Sattouf beautifully captures all of the jagged angst and uncertainty of various childhood dilemmas, from the monstrous, bullying school teachers to the fear of the dark, and trying to sleep whilst his little brother talks, cries and mumbles in his sleep. It's hard not to sympathise and relate to his ordeals, even though the action takes place in the Middle East and France, the nature of his trials are universal and relatable to most kids growing up. Again like the first instalment you really feel for his poor French mother who has chosen to sign up to a spartan life living in Arab countries that are like a different century compared to what she is used to back home. The stern entitlement of the adults, particularly the men, though some of the women are just as bad, can be quite intimidating. His arrogant yet well-meaning father and the routine dismissive and demeaning assumptions made about women being second class are quite astonishing to western eyes, yet they are accepted as the norm. There are so many funny scenes in here, which had me laughing aloud. One of my favourites has to be when he goes hunting for sparrows with his dad, or when he goes to visit his many relatives and some of the incidents that arise from those encounters are priceless. The power of the art work really comes through, like in the scenes when the teacher hits the pupils with the ruler. The family have to live in a village and culture that due to a slavish devotion to a medieval and conservative form of religion, results in some genuinely cruel and disturbing behaviour. The level of tyranny and bullying by his teachers is on another scale, and creates the impression that the school only employs the cruelest, nastiest people they can find. This was another wonderfully done graphic account by Sattouf and I look forward to the third instalment. It recalls some of the other fine graphic memoirs that have been translated from French,like "Persepolis" and "Epileptic" and comfortably sits up there alongside them.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Siina

    This second part is a good continuation to the comic series, although it doesn't offer anything new and mostly it consists of life's small mysteries. Riad doesn't get older all that much, but mostly the comic is about Sattoufs getting used to Syria and how weird and backward that country was in the 1980s. Al-Assad makes me so mad and I don't really get why the Jews are so hated. Well, it's obvious Syria roots for Palestine, but still. Once again I cannot stand Riad's dad, even though he's milder This second part is a good continuation to the comic series, although it doesn't offer anything new and mostly it consists of life's small mysteries. Riad doesn't get older all that much, but mostly the comic is about Sattoufs getting used to Syria and how weird and backward that country was in the 1980s. Al-Assad makes me so mad and I don't really get why the Jews are so hated. Well, it's obvious Syria roots for Palestine, but still. Once again I cannot stand Riad's dad, even though he's milder in this comic. I still have hard time believing their marriage holds and why the heck does Riad's dad want to stay in Syria??? I'm sorry to say this, but nothing works there and Al-Assad was a nasty dictator and his son isn't any better. Stuff like this makes me mad and at the same time I'm happy someone writes and draws comics like these, so we would know. I really like the art and the colors of the Syrian flag that are used. There's certain comical aspects to it and it lightens up the heavy atmosphere. I'm not saying the comic is grave as such, but most of the things are so absurd that it's easier to digest them when the art looks "funnier". The simplicity of it all makes this great and odd at the same time, but really - it's the perfect combination that Satrapi and Delisle used too. The flow is good, although towards the end there are such pauses that you end up thinking whether something is missing. I just wish there had been a better structure to the story, since now it feels like the plot isn't going anywhere and it's hard to grasp the point of it all. Well, if there's any point except presenting the past as it happened. A pace like this means this comic will continue forever and I'm not so sure if it's the best decision.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kerfe

    This graphic novel explores the part of the author's childhood in the mid 1980s in Syria when be begins to attend school. His French mother fits only loosely into Syrian culture, and his father seems totally self-centered and clueless. But perhaps all children must find their way without proper preparation or context to help them make sense of adult behavior and expectations. Told from a child's point of view, Sattouf's narration is not overtly judgmental, but it's clear that he is baffled by and This graphic novel explores the part of the author's childhood in the mid 1980s in Syria when be begins to attend school. His French mother fits only loosely into Syrian culture, and his father seems totally self-centered and clueless. But perhaps all children must find their way without proper preparation or context to help them make sense of adult behavior and expectations. Told from a child's point of view, Sattouf's narration is not overtly judgmental, but it's clear that he is baffled by and fearful of a lot of the rules and assumptions that govern Syrian life. To a Western woman like myself, this fundamentalist male-centered and dominated culture seems chilling. But it's also hard to avoid making parallels to similar movements emphasizing "purity" in my own culture; the framework may be different, but the resulting rigid categorization, intolerance, and lack of humanity seem to be a mirror image. I did not read Volume 1, but this book stands perfectly well on its own. Sattouf has a good grasp of the monumental task of growing up, of becoming aware of the world and then figuring out how to construct a narrative for yourself that will allow you both to be yourself and to survive. It's a task that only grows more complex as we accumulate years, people, places, things.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    Just as good as the first volume - perhaps better. I don't know if it's unique to Syria, or if it's just something that young boys do, but I am really hoping that the third volume doesn't involve any animal torture. In the first volume, a dog is killed. In this volume, Riad's father goes bird hunting and shoots several sparrows, which is not nearly as upsetting as what happens next: one of Riad's friends (view spoiler)[ties several frogs to his front bike tire and then proceeds to ride the bike. Just as good as the first volume - perhaps better. I don't know if it's unique to Syria, or if it's just something that young boys do, but I am really hoping that the third volume doesn't involve any animal torture. In the first volume, a dog is killed. In this volume, Riad's father goes bird hunting and shoots several sparrows, which is not nearly as upsetting as what happens next: one of Riad's friends (view spoiler)[ties several frogs to his front bike tire and then proceeds to ride the bike. (hide spoiler)] WHAT. Still, it's a really interesting glimpse into the cross-cultural marriage of Riad's Syrian father and French mother and his own childhood growing up in France and Syria.

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