Review: Chicken with Plums

Graphic novels seem to be everywhere now and I thought I´d try to pay more attention to the genre and include the comics aisle on my library round. I have read only two graphic novels till now, Persepolis and Exit Wounds, but enjoyed them enough to want to try more.

Chicken with Plums is another graphic novel by Marjane Strapi and narrates the last eight days of her great-uncle Nasser Ali Khan, a famous tar player. His own tar has been broken and Nasser Ali tries out tar after tar to find one that can replace his old one, but with no luck. Finally he decides that if he cannot play anymore there is no reason for him to live, so Nasser Ali lies down in bed and waits for death to come. During his last eight days, he remembers an old love and learning to play the tar. But he also contemplates his unhappy marriage and the disrespect of his children. His wife and his brother attempt to pull Nassar Ali out of his depression, but not even his favorite meal, chicken with plums, can get him distract him.

Like in Persepolis, there are hallucinations and visitations. In this book, Nasser Ali is visited by the angel of death, Iranian poets, and fantasizes about Sophia Loren. Satrapi´s style is easy to recognize, stark black and white images that appear simplistic, however I very much enjoy about her art that she emphasizes facial expressions so much. Here´s an excerpt (credit: Salon.com):

Although there are moments of fun in Chicken with Plums, the son singing in a bus for hours on end, the americanization of family members who emigrate, the book tells the story of a dying man and his losing battle with depression, not a fun story, but an impressive one. I´ll be sure to read more by Satrapi. Has anyone read Embroideries?

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9 thoughts on “Review: Chicken with Plums

  1. I’ve heard good things about Embroideries by Eva from A Striped Armchair, she said she enjoyed it more than Persepolis.

    I’m glad to hear that this book impressed you. I have to admit that Persepolis didn’t appeal to me like it did to most others, but I still want to give Satrapi another try.

    1. I think you might still enjoy this one, the story is quite different from Persepolis, although the style is the same. But read and review Embroideries first, I´m very interested in that one now 😀

    1. I haven´t read many graphic novels, but I really liked Persepolis (although her Embroideries is supposed to be better). Maus is another one I think is a must read. And Blankets is supposed to be great. So I guess I´d recommend starting with one of those 🙂

  2. I’m so looking forward to this book! It sounds quite dark, but I think I’ll enjoy it. I did read Embroideries, and while it’s nowhere nearly as good or as satisfying as Persepolis, I thought it was very interesting to get a glimpse of Iranian women’s lives behind closed doors.

    1. Interesting to hear that you enjoyed Persepolis so much as well. I think it´s the main character that made it so approachable, Nassar Ali Khan is not so likable as Marjane, but I think one can still relate to him. Let me know how you like this one, I really want to read Emroideries now 🙂

  3. ‘Chicken with Plums’ looks like a beautiful story though a sad one. I will add this to my ‘TBR’ list. Thanks for reviewing it.

      1. Yes 🙂 I really loved ‘Persepolis’ but suspected that Sartrapi had told most of what she wanted in that. ‘Chicken with Plums’ looks like a beautiful new story.

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