The Arab of the Future 1 & 2



To be published in US/UK Sept. 12, 2017









TThese  are  the memoirs of Riad Sattouf’s childhood. He was born in France, but when his father graduates with his doctorate, they move first to Libya, and then to his father’s homeland, Syria.  The series was originally published in France to a mixed reception. The son of an Arab father and a French mother, Sattouf is often seen as anti-Arab. At the same time he s admired and seen as a master of graphica up there with Spiegelman, Satrapi and Sacco.  He has the hard satirical stance that worked for his regular column in Charlie Hebdo.    Sattouf has come to fame recently as the only Arab contributor to Charlie Hebdo, at the time of the massacre.  You can read more about him and the controversy around this book–some people find him racist and insensitive, others are great admirers.

These are full integrated graphic works.  The drawings are essential to the storytelling.  The people are cartoonish– each character’s nose is the most prominent feature. Despite the simplicity of the drawings the characters thoughts and feelings are clearly communicated.  A nice touch is that even though each the format is basically black and white, each country has it’s own colour wash: France is blue, Libya is yellow and Syria is pink, with the occasional object in full colour. Abdul-Razak (his father)’s radio is red. Gadafi, and portraits of him and his green book are green and the soldiers’ berets, when they get to Syria are deep red.

New Yorker
New York Times review of AotF
New York Times review of AotF 2
Guardian AotF
Guardian AotF 2
Arab of the Future website

Tom Raworth

It’s hard for me to get my head around the fact that this dear man is no longer with us.  His work is extraordinary, but his presence was inspirational every time I was with him.

Guardian Obituary

The other week, we wrote about British poet Tom Raworth, who had announced he was dying. Late Wednesday, American poet Charles Bernsteinconfirmed on social media, Raworth let go peacefully at home, surrounded by family. His wife Val called it “a release from his sufferings.” The Poetry Foundation has written a wonderful obituary, remembering Raworth as “a funny, warm, sprightly gentleman, who seemed to know exactly how we he wanted to live.” In his final weeks, rumors that the candle had gone out erupted several times, only to prove untrue, leading Bernstein to observe, “The intensity of the vigil is the measure of how much he meant to both those who knew him and those who know him by his work.”

Cory Doctorow Writes About Freedom

doctorow_jacket_press_draft6.pdfCory Doctorow has written an important book.  Many good friends have been telling me this for years about his other books and his on-line writing.  Finally I took their advice.  I borrowed his book out of the library.  I could probably have downloaded it for free somewhere, found the audio book on a torrent site, but I went with the old fashioned media sharing establishment in my town.  They probably own all of Mr. Doctorow’s books and the ones they don’t happen to own.  I wouldn’t ever have to buy one, although at least they bought them.

This is what Information Doesn’t Want  to Be Free  is about.  It’s about how the internet has completely turned much of artistic production and business upside down.  The old ways of making money from books, from recorded music have been smashed and all the federal agents, all the business tycoons, all the artists in the world will not put back together again.

“Computers are copying machines.” and that is why we need a book that reminds us about the “reality of the internet today and the regulations that surround it, and the ways that those regulations shape successful strategies for earning a creative wage.”Cory_Doctorow_in_Borough_Market


Brad Johnson, a bookseller at Oakland’s Diesel Bookstore, is poised to take over ownership of the store, to be renamed East Bay Booksellers. There are just a few days remaining on the Indiegogo campaign to help with the transition, so we thought now would be a good time to ask Johnson a few questions about moving from bookseller to store-owner.

Why are you doing this . . . it seems crazy

Read the rest of the article on the wonderful Lit Hub

Keiler Roberts: Sunburning

51775260I didn’t know anything about Keiler Roberts when I picked up, her graphic memoir, Sunburning, with its plain yellow cover, the book’s title a slightly lighter yellow, and a simple sketch of a woman with her midsection erased.

One one level, the book is nothing special.  A woman, going through her day, talking to her daughter and her husband.  But it’s much more than that. The drawings are simple and expressive.  And the stories too.  They are a string of moments, often funny, some awkward, some revealing.  Keiler is the centre of the stories with her daughter providing many of the funny lines. Keiler has bipolar disorder, and it is tough to handle some of the scenes where she is at her lowest, but on the other hand they are mundane in the right way.  She keeps going–doing what needs to be done.  Caring for her daughter. It is heroic in the proper sense of keep moving through the day.  If you deal with any mental condition, you know that if you get up and do what has to be done, it is not easy, but it passes.  Not every episode of mental illness needs to be on the police procedural show of the week.

It’s also about growing up, being a mother, a wife, a daughter.  It’s easy and it’s hard. You laugh and you care and you worry.  Somehow, Roberts’ wit and narrative ability keeps you wanting to take the next step with her, to see what tomorrow brings.

This is the true art that so many of us and so many artists and writers fail at.  So often we have to turn our life in choreographed stories and have to find the headline. But life is more open, less contrived and not so easy to encapsulate, and some art manages to allow us in, control our view just enough to keep us following along, without shaping it beyond truth to fiction.  Fiction has a different purpose, but in non-fiction, this is what we need.  Don’t expect to understand, share, ponder, and realize you have another experience to add to your own.

published by Koyama Press
available at your local bookstore or library – ask them to order it if needed!

There is more to know about Keiler, and here’s a full interview in The Toucan–the blog of Comic-Con.

RC: Why draw comics about yourself, as opposed to other subjects?
KR: Why draw comics about anything else? I’m really interested in what’s true – real life experiences. I only have full access to myself. It’s not because I think I’m especially interesting. I would do autobio from your point of view if I could.


How to Be Human by Paula Cocozza


New York Times review of  HOW TO BE HUMAN By Paula Cocozza 

Paula Cocozza’s hypnotic first novel, “How to Be Human,” features 34-year-old Mary Green and the urban fox that takes up residence in her London garden. Mary, who as a girl wrote letters to herself to stem acute loneliness, welcomes the vulpine caller. The fox is soon leaving tokens for her, “the kind a knight pledges before going into battle.” She begins to call him a friend. Within weeks, they’ve formed a natural intimacy. In this suspenseful tale animal and human behavior begin to meld, even reverse, and who’s dangerous and who’s endangered is not always clear.

278 pp. Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Company. $26.

Other reviews:

The Guardian

Publishers Weekly

Times Literary Supplement

The Economist

The pictures that go with the reviews

‘He was in her service. And she was in his’ … Paula Cocozza’s protagonist receives a visitor from the wild.

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