The Arab of the Future 4: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1987-1992 by Riad Sattouf
The penultimate installment in the bestselling French graphic memoir series—hailed as “exquisitely illustrated” and “irresistible”—covering the years of Riad Sattouf’s adolescence, from 1987-1992.
In the fourth volume of The Arab of the Future, little Riad has grown into a teenager. In the previous books, his childhood was complicated by the pull of his two cultures—French and Syrian—and his parents’ deteriorating relationship. Now his father, Adbel-Razak, has left to take a job in Saudi Arabia, and after making a pilgrimage to Mecca, turns increasingly towards religion. But after following him from place to place and living for years under the harsh conditions of his impoverished village, Riad’s mother Clementine has had enough. Refusing to live in a country where women have no rights, she returns with her children to live in France with her own mother… until Abdel-Razak shows up unexpectedly to drag the family on yet another journey.
As the series builds to a climax, we see Riad struggle with problems both universal (bullies at school) and specific (his mother’s sudden illness, the judgment of his religious relatives). And as Abdel-Razak returns again to the same fantastical dreams he pursued in previous books, we see him become more and more unhinged, until ultimately he crosses the line from idealism to fanaticism, leading to a dramatic breaking point.
Full of the same gripping storytelling and lush visual style for which Sattouf’s previous works have won numerous awards, The Arab of the Future 4 continues the saga of the Sattouf family and their peripatetic life in France and the Middle East.