Tag Archives: metropolitan books

The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984 by Riad Sattouf

The Arab of the Future by Riad Sattouf Title: The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984
Author: Riad Sattouf
Publisher: Metropolitan Books
ISBN: 978-1627793445
Genre: Graphic Memoir
Pages: 160
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I had chanced upon this graphic novel, just by surfing, as I chance upon most of my reads. I read stuff on the internet and then pick and choose by reads. Like most reads that I come across this way and read it this year – the first book of 2016 and what a way to kick-start the year!

Image 4

“The Arab of the Future” is a graphic memoir of Riad Sattouf and is the first in the two part series. It is about his childhood spent in Libya, France and Syria – and how he and his family kept shuffling between these three places. It is about the confusion that Riad goes through as a child, given the different cultures and perspectives. It is almost as if it is the miseducation of a child in an Arab world. It is world where little boys defecate on streets, women have no voice, stray dogs are killed with pitchforks and where religion is of supreme importance and you are definitely in for trouble if you aren’t Muslim.

Image 2

Riad Sattouf, a French-Syrian cartoonist has drawn just more than what seems to be a graphic memoir on the surface. It is a juxtaposition of values and how each culture is and what they stand for. Riad’s Arabic father believes in a lot things that his French born and raised mother does not and in all of this there is Riad, trying to make sense of the worlds he has been thrown into – where his relatives on both sides seem to be very different and act differently as well. He cannot figure what is going on and is forever confused as he makes his way and understands the world a little better.

Image 1

For me while reading this book, a new world opened – that of Sunnis and Shias (though the discussion points about this aspect are few), about Israel and Palestine and what is the conflict all about (again this is briefly touched upon) and how even family members deal with each other sometimes in the most brutal manner.

Image 3

The graphic memoir is beautifully illustrated with a lot of tongue-in-cheek comments and indications as you go along. It is done in sepia tones, which you get used to as you turn the pages. I was fascinated with how Riad’s education took place right at home amidst his cousins and their fascination for his toys to how religion politics even affect childhood to a very large extent in these areas – may be that is just how it is with them – catch them young and watch them grow.

The book in a graphic form touches on so many issues that it is difficult at a point to treat it as a graphic novel. You wish he had written a non-fiction text which had more details. “The Arab of the Future” also has a sequel to it which I am most eagerly awaiting – it will take some time given that it will be a translation just like this one. To all graphic novel enthusiasts: Do not skip this one. A must read.

Affiliate Link:

Flipkart:

The Arab of the Future

Amazon:

The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984: A Graphic Memoir

Advertisements

Book Review: Partitions by Amit Majmudar

Title: Partitions
Author: Amit Majmudar
Publisher: Metropolitan Books (Henry Holt and Co)
ISBN: 978-0805093957
Genre: Fiction
PP: 224 pages
Price: $25.00
Source: Publisher via Bookpleasures.com
Rating: 5/5

My grandmother used to tell me stories about the partition, about how they left their homeland Pakistan and were evicted to India in August 1947. I used to hear these stories with enthrallment, not knowing the hardships she and my grandfather went through to build a new life. How could I have known? I was but a child at that time. However, as I grew up, I started being more perceptive of the event and it made me see things differently – keeping in mind both countries – India and Pakistan and what its citizens experienced when partition was announced.

A lot of writers have written about the Partition – from Salman Rushdie to Bhisham Sahni to Khushwant Singh and each one of them have depicted the state of affairs in a different way. Amidst these stalwarts, comes a new book entitled, Partitions by Amit Majmudar.

I had the opportunity of reading this vividly written book and I must say that I was mesmerized by the prose.

Partitions centers around four individuals from both sides of the border and how their lives converge throughout the book. Shankar and Keshav, two Hindu Boys, have lost sight of their mother at a train station and don’t know where they belong or where to go to. Simran Kaur, a young Sikh girl, has run away from her father, who would rather see her dead than dishonored. Ibrahim Masud, an elderly Muslim doctor is driven away from India towards the new Muslim State of Pakistan.

The book is about the meeting of these four characters and how they come together ironically enough, defying every political thought and viewpoint. The writing is lyrical – it is almost like the sentences dance on the page and you are transported to another time and place. The main theme of the book, hope, comes across strongly and evokes a sense of belonging and what does it take for a bond to form amongst strangers.

I would highly recommend this book because of its plot, the heart-felt writing and the possibilities that exist in our world and are brilliantly portrayed by writers such as Mr. Majmudar through the medium of writing.

Affiliate Link:

Buy Partitions from Flipkart.com

Reviewer for Bookpleasures.com