“The Arab of the future”, volume 6, by Riad Sattouf: the end of a cycle

The highly anticipated volume 6 of The Arab of the future hits the bookstore. A final opus which covers the period 1994-2011 and which puts an end to the drawn autobiography of Riad Sattouf, in which he recounts his youth between Syria and Brittany. Our review.

It is the phenomenon comics of this end of the year. And, without being flashy, we imagine it will be one of the most popular bookstore gifts for the holidays.

Little reminder : The Arab of the future is a series that has sold over three million copies since 2014 and has been translated into 23 languages. Riad Sattouf recounts his childhood between the Middle East and France, in a tone that combines drama and humor.

If you haven’t read the first five volumes, all you need to know is that Riad Sattouf was born to a Syrian father and a Breton mother, and that he spent the first years of his life under dictatorships, Gaddafi in Libya and Hafez Al-Assad in Syria. One day, his mother, tired of her husband’s radical religious turn, decided to return to Brittany with her children. A separation that puts an end to this marriage.

And this is the moment when Riad will have to face… adolescence. A pivotal period, which will not spare him. He himself writes: “In 1994, I was 16 and I was a semi-psychopath. »

©Riad Sattouf

Put an end to the unbearable suspense of volume 5

Long-awaited, this last volume closes a saga started in 2014 by Riad Sattouf, but, above all, it provides an answer to the cliffhanger of volume 5 published two years ago. Needless to say, the wait turned out to be very long, because the emotional stakes were impressive.

Indeed, at the end of the fourth volume, Riad’s father kidnaps Fadi, Riad’s little brother, and takes him with him to Syria. In the fifth volume, the mother makes every effort to recover her child, without success. But, as we get to the last pages of the book, his father, Abdel, reappears! He promises to bring Fadi back. Will he? Whatever the outcome of this promise (no spoiler…), Riad is forever marked by the family drama that irrigates this volume 6, all in bluish and red tones.

A fine and uninhibited adolescent chronicle

Yet – and this is the whole charm of The Arab of the future –, despite the dramas, Riad continues to explore the universal problems of a 16-year-old teenager: he is not popular, longs for girls who don’t even notice him and is bored in high school.

However, no depression in sight, because this last volume is also an opportunity to see the young Riad extricate himself from this monotonous and morose life to become the recognized artist he is today. From Brittany to Paris, we accompany him in his quest to become the author of “comics”.

From the first comic strip festivals to the production of his first movie The Beautiful Kids (2009)through precious and unforgettable meetings with designers Christophe Blain, Joann Sfar and Mathieu Sapin, Riad manages to make its mark.

This album is the consecration of his talent as a draftsman and author: we see him developing his own line, deceptively simplistic but expressive, bordering on caricature. A talent already spotted by his Breton grandmother – his first reader – when he was only 5 years old and had just drawn Georges Pompidou.

His most introspective album

With this volume 6, Riad Sattouf thus rises to the top of his pen, which tells and draws with tenderness and precision something of our time, something that touches us. But he also delivers here a final volume that is particularly touching, because it is very introspective, since the young Riad lets himself be convinced by psychoanalysis. The goal ? Free yourself from the past.

Throughout the album, Riad remains haunted by her father, who appears to her in bright red interludes. The young boy constantly imagines what his father would have to retort to him – and, little by little, he manages to detach himself from it.

The Arab of the future, from Riad Sattouf. In bookstores since November 24, 2022.

So bye bye The Arab of the future… But after ? Riad Sattouf has already opened a new autobiographical cycle last year with The Young Actor. We are already looking forward to walking with him…

The Arab of the future, by Riad Sattouf, Allary Editions, 184 p., €24.90. In bookstores since November 24, 2022.

“The Arab of the future”, volume 6, by Riad Sattouf: the end of a cycle