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I am 10 years old. Riad Sattouf: “A special childhood”


Syrian-born comic artist and director Riad Sattouf during a photo shoot in Paris, September 7, 2020 (JOEL SAGET / AFP)

Riad Sattouf is of French and Syrian origin. His singular childhood between East and West, and its double culture are in the heart of his work. Riad Sattouf is revealed to the general public in the 2000s thanks to its series Pascal brutal published in the magazine Glacial fluid. With The Arab of the future and les Esther’s Notebooks whose sixth tome just published by Allary editions, it is the consecration in France as abroad.

In the cinema, he has especially realized two films, The Beautiful Kids in 2009 and Jacky in Girls Kingdom in 2014.

Xenophobia is expressed in a different way, it is more or less extreme. This mistrust of being a foreign element and of arriving in an environment where you are this foreign element of which you are suspicious, is something that I experienced very early on.

Riad Sattouf, filmmaker, author, cartoonist

franceinfo: “Particular”, it is in these terms that you qualify your childhood. Why ?

Riad Sattouf: As I was of two origins, I lived in several countries. I was lucky to have two points of view, on two different ways of living, and at the same time, very relatives. In these two cultures, even if we felt that they had differences, it was mostly economic differences.

In Syria, people were extremely poor. We lived in a small village of peasants, in the suburb of Homs where people lived as in the 17th century. There was electricity, with a lot of cuts, and the‘water for a very short time. And in Brittany, France being richer all the same, there was better infrastructure, but there were still extremely poor, extremely isolated areas.

My grandmother’s neighbor for example, she lived exactly as in the Middle Ages. It is true that to have been able to see like that two worlds parallels, this has was a rewarding experience.

You moved over your father’s positions. There was Gaddafi’s Libya, the Syria of Hafez al-Assad. You grew up in a world of violence. What memories of this time have particularly marked you?

Quite quickly, there is one thing that I was confronted with that marked me, it’s running up against the wall of the group that refuses you Phone that you are or questions what you can be. In Libya or Syria, where the children did not see me as one of their own, but also in Brittany.

When you have a name a little ridiculous like mine which is a joke, you can see that you don’t have a Breton name. Xenophobia is expressed in a different way, it is more or less extreme.

What kind of little boy were you?

At 10 years old, I was totally obsessed with drawing already, I wanted to become comic book author. We lived in this small village in Syria and my Breton grandmother sent me comics by post because there was no book, no library, no one read in this country village.year.

I did not have and read only Tintin, and I thought it was like the sun or like the sky, that it existshave from all eternity. One day, I discovered that it was created by a man, called RG, that it was a person and that we could make books like that. TO From that revelation, I told myself that was what I wanted to do.

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