Riad Sattouf is a comics artist and a film director whose work is characterized by variety. He is most renowned outside of France for his autobiographical graphic novel The Arab of the Future, which has been translated to more than 20 languages, among them Finnish. Born in 1978 in Paris, to a French mother and a Syrian father, he grew up between Libya, Syria, and France. After graduating high school in Bretagne and studying art in Rennes, he specialized in animation at the École Pivault, and the écoles des Gobelins in Paris.
A central theme in Sattouf’s work is the importance of the youngsters’ perspective. He describes the world of children and teenagers through a variety of situations. In 2005 he published Retour au collège, and for ten years (2004-2014) his cartoons La Vie secrète des jeunes were to be read in Charlie hebdo. In both works he describes with humor teenagers’ everyday life. This is also what he does in his autobiographical work. He simply describes his family’s everyday life and the Syrian reality, through the eyes of a little boy. In Les Cahiers d’Esther, first published in Le Nouvel Observateur, he tells about the life of a young Parisian girl, in short cartoons. He gives a voice to the youth not only with his pencils, but also with a camera, as in his movie Les Beaux Gosses, which won the César award for the best first movie.
Nevertheless, his work is not naive. On the contrary, social and political questions arise, although a social critique is not the author’s objective. For instance, Sattouf talks about the relationship between genders, in his award-winning series Pascal Brutal, showing the life of an ultra-masculine man. This is also central in his second movie, Jacky au Royaume des filles, set in an imaginary dictatorial regime where women are in position of power. The Arab of the Future asks the same questions, as it shows a society where the man, the father, is central in the family, but the main point of the book is to show the life of a little boy and his fascination towards his father.
Sattouf describes poetically and humorously the intimacy of everyday life. His characters and his stories are very touching and he made graphic novels accessible to people who were not interested in comics before.
Riad Sattouf will be at the French Institute on October 16! Come to the library to get acquainted with his work!