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In the third installment of the acclaimed series, the Sattouf family begins to implode under the pressure of Hafez al-Assad's regime and the suffocation of their rural Syrian village.
The Arab of the Future is the widely acclaimed, internationally bestselling graphic memoir that tells the story of Riad Sattouf’s peripatetic childhood in the Middle East. In the first volume, which covers the years 1978–1984, his family moves between rural France, Libya, and Syria, where they eventually settle in his father’s native village of Ter Maaleh, near Homs. The second volume recounts young Riad’s first year attending school in Syria (1984–1985), where he dedicates himself to becoming a true Syrian in the country of Hafez al-Assad. In this third volume, (1985–1987), Riad’s mother, fed up with the grinding reality of daily life in the village, decides she cannot take it any longer. When she resolves to move back to France, young Riad sees his father torn between his wife’s aspirations and the weight of family traditions.
In the third volume of his magnificent five-part memoir, French-Syrian cartoonist Sattouf aged seven in the book begins to realize the poverty, patriarchy, and religious stratification that permeates life in Syria. He reluctantly undergoes a circumcision to appease his devout grandmother, becomes cognizant of his mother's lowly stature in Syrian society, and sees his father's own limitations and weaknesses. The cultural rift between Sattouf's French-born mother and his Syrian-born father metastasizes throughout this installment. Sattouf's mother is vocal about her unhappiness living in her husband's childhood village: "We've got quite a few problems," she tells her mother over the phone. "Life is hard here." Sattouf's father once a dynamic, progressive student living in France has lost his hopeful outlook as he is increasingly drawn to his extended family's religiosity. While the young Sattouf retains his childish whimsy, the tension between the adults in his life looms like a shadow. As the series builds in maturity and depth, Sattouf depicts in unsettling detail how political and religious indoctrination can infect even the most well-meaning idealists. This is essential reading both for graphic novel fans and to provide human context to global political conflicts. (Aug.)