Arab of the Future 2: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1984-1985’ is a
graphic memoir, and is part of a series of novels which tell the story of Riad
Suttouf, a cartoonist who grew up in Syria during the 1980s. This particular
graphic novel, the second in the series, tells us about Riad’s life as a
six-year-old - as he starts school, makes friends, meets bullies and goes
through other experiences.
The style of
Suttouf’s drawings really draws you into the novel itself - a simplistic style
that warmly conveys his childhood in a breathtaking way. But at the same time
his artistic style can be so detailed and stark at times, that even one pane of
the story can make you gasp aloud, as what Riad is conveying in such a simple
yet harrowing is so heartbreaking. Suttouf also expertly and carefully
lays out his story in such a way that you feel almost as if you’re watching a
short film unfold in front of you, in the guise of stills. Even when the darker
elements start to unfold, you can’t help but be drawn in as you’re so invested
in the story, partly through the way it’s told through the drawings themselves,
and because of how Suttouf has chosen to carefully tell it - so that the
shocking moments really have an impact, but then, so do the happier, joyful
moments - and they both blend together to create a really affecting graphic
memoir that you struggle to forget.
While the flow of the story can be a
little slow at times, it’s very true to real life - how can you expect constant
twists and turns, especially in the life of a child? And yet, even in the
slower moments of the novel, Suttouf still manages to weave in the same
beautiful artwork, and some incredible moments that become even more emotional
after you’ve finished reading the whole novel. As well as being a great book,
and piece of art, ‘The Arab of the Future 2: A
Childhood in the Middle East, 1984-1985’ is also an incredible insight into another time and entire culture - so no
matter the pacing, you never get tired of the story, and often can’t put the
book down, it really draws you in.
One thing’s for sure - ‘The Arab of the Future 2: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1984-1985’ is both incredible and absolutely unforgettable. If you’re a fan of graphic novels, memoirs, or a captivating true life story, then this is definitely the book for you, as is the rest of Suttouf’s ‘The Arab of the Future’ series.
THE ARAB OF THE FUTURE 2: A CHILDHOOD IN THE MIDDLE EAST, 1984-1985 / AUTHOR: RIAD SATTOUF / PUBLISHER: TWO ROADS / RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 22ND