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Comics author and director Riad Sattouf won the Angoulême Festival Grand Prix on Wednesday, one of the greatest world distinctions in the field.
The Franco-Syrian Riad Sattouf, author of “The Arab of the Future”, won the Grand Prix at the Angoulême Festival, the highest award in the world of comics, on Wednesday January 25.
The 44-year-old designer, elected by his fellow comic book authors on the occasion of the 50e edition of the famous festival, received the distinction during the opening ceremony at the Théâtre d’Angoulême. “It’s very impressive,” he said after a standing ovation.
The big price #FIBD2023 is awarded to… @RiadSattouf !
Born in 1978, he is a comic book author and director. His childhood took place between Libya, Syria and Brittany. He studied applied arts in Nantes, then animated film in Paris, at the Ecole des Gobelins. pic.twitter.com/18w1LP23rU
— Angoulême Festival (@bdangouleme) January 25, 2023
He paid tribute to his maternal grandmother, the one who first believed in his talent. “I wanted to make a comic strip imagining that she would like to read it, she who did not like it”, explained the cartoonist about “The Arab of the future”. “I am deeply honored and moved (…) It is the centerpiece that was missing at the top of the pyramid of my ego”, he launched. “Make books, and more books. Besides, that’s what I’m going to do too.”
Riad Sattouf beat two women. For the French Catherine Meurisse, it is the fourth consecutive time that she has been beaten in the final. She can console herself with her entry into the Academy of Fine Arts in November. The American Alison Bechdel had meanwhile received a form of recognition, less visible but rarer, when “The Secrets of Superhuman Strength” had been selected by the Prix Médicis in its first selection in foreign literature in September.
The Grand Prix de la Ville d’Angoulême has been awarded since 1974, with all the big names in comics, particularly Franco-Belgian, on its list. This one opened up only slightly to other continents, giving priority to a few authors from the United States and Japan, despite the strong tradition of comics in these countries.
The global success of “The Arab of the Future”
It took a lot of demands on the designer from a modest youth in Syria to his consecration with this Grand Prix in Angoulême, but at 44, he has found a popularity that goes beyond the world of comics.
He is the son of a Syrian, doctor in history who suffered from never finding the same recognition, and a Frenchwoman who was a precious support in his vocation. This story of the birth of an artist is told in detail in “The Arab of the future”, an autobiography drawn in six volumes (2014 to 2022), which had exceeded three million copies sold, before the arrival in bookstores. of the last part.
“When I lived in my small village in Syria, there was no bookstore, no library. I had a confined life,” he explained to AFP on the occasion of the publication of volume 5. “This interest in books and comics, I owe it to my Breton grandmother, who sent me books by post,” he added.
This series, translated into more than 20 languages, has found international success. And this volume 6, with only a little over a month on the shelf after its release on November 22, was the 12th best-selling book in France in 2022.
But Riad Sattouf also draws the life of a young Parisian of today, since she was 10 years old, in “Les Cahiers d’Esther” (7 volumes since 2016), and has embarked on that of the actor Vincent Lacoste ( “The Young Actor”, 1 volume for now).
Why him ? Because Riad Sattouf, filmmaker, launched his career. He has directed two feature films, “Les Beaux Gosses” (2009) and “Jacky in the kingdom of girls” (2014). And he is preparing a third, alongside youth idols: the comic trio of the Unknowns.
This relentless, meticulous worker juggles projects with an ease that is only a facade. In truth, he questions himself all the time. He says he was marked, in high school, by a teacher who told him: “Sattouf, you have facilities, but you know what happens to those who have facilities and who do not work?”