GRAPHIC NOVELS

The Arab of the Future. Vol. 2: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1984–1985; A Graphic Memoir

Metropolitan: Holt. Sept. 2016. 176p. ISBN 9781627793513. pap. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781627793520. GRAPHIC NOVEL/MEMOIR
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OrangeReviewStarThis second volume of Sattouf's highly acclaimed memoir, winner of France's Fauve d'Or Award and a Los Angeles Book Prize finalist, sees the Sattouf family now living in Syria. In the first book we learn of the author's birth in France (where his mother is from and where his Syrian father earns his doctorate) and the family's 1978 move to Libya, where Sattouf's father obtains a teaching position. Here, we glimpse their experiences in 1980s Syria; both heartbreaking and revelatory, they portray the dictatorship of Hafez al-Hassad, whose son Bashar al-Hassad currently rules. Although this story of childhood has some horrific moments (sadistic teachers, extreme anti-Semitism, and violence meted out in the name of justice), it manages to capture snapshots of the innocence of childhood, such as when Sattouf is schooled in swearing by his cousins.
VERDICT 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. [See Prepub Alert, 3/28/16.]

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