In Riad Sattouf’s autobiographical graphic memoir, The Arab of the Future – A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984, we are introduced to the worlds of Libia, Syria, and Paris through the eyes of a child. This is a slice of life from places I have no knowledge of, and they are presented in such a way that is simplistic and childlike, making the horrors all that more atrocious. One example includes the killing of a dog by a group of children. It’s horrific to the reader and to some of the characters depicted, but mainly it’s seen as a non-event, at least from the child narrator’s perspective and how he views reactions from his adults, specifically his bewilderment of a father.
There were more moments in this graphic novel that made me question what I was reading, from overt anti-Semitic remarks to homophobic slurs. But this is the truest childhood that Sattouf could present to us in all its grit, whether you like it or not.