Chicken With Plums (Review)

November 5, 2010

Book cover for "Chicken with Plums" by Marjane Satrapi.Title: Chicken With Plums

Author: Marjane Satrapi

Publication Year: 2006

Pages: 96

Genre: Non-Fiction, Graphic Novel

Source: Purchased from Chapters

From the cover:

Acclaimed graphic artist Marjane Satrapi brings what has become her signature humor and insight, her keen eye and ear, to the heartrending story of a celebrated Iranian musician who gives up his life for music and love.

When Nasser Ali Khan, the author’s great-uncle, discovers that his beloved instrument is irreparably damaged, he takes to his bed, renouncing the world and all its pleasures. Over the course of the week that follows, we are treated to vivid scenes of his encounters with family and friends, flashbacks to his childhood, and flash-forwards to his children’s future. And as the pieces of his story fall into place, we begin to understand the breadth of his decision to let go of life.

The poignant story of one man, it is also stunningly universal — a luminous tale of life and death, and the courage and passion both require of us.

This is probably my least favourite of Satrapi’s graphic novels.

I get that it’s supposed to be about the deep and hard reasons why the main character decides to just let himself die once he has lost his instrument, but all I kept thinking was … what are you DOING? Grow up!

To be fair, I think part of the point is for the reader to feel Nasser’s frustration and the emptiness that he feels once his musical career is over. And I did feel a certain amount of empathy for him, especially as the story progresses and the cause of the broken instrument is revealed. Still, though, it just didn’t quite work for me. Maybe I’m just too cynical to really “get” the kind of story and emotion that Satrapi was trying to create.

The graphics in Chicken With Plums, on the other hand, are just as beautiful and heart-wrenching as I expected after reading Persepolis and Embroideries. If you enjoy Satrapi’s work, you might want to give this one a shot; just because I didn’t particularly like it doesn’t mean that you won’t. In the end, though, it’s not something I would give as high a recommendation as the rest of her work: I’d tell you to try out the others way before this one.

Rating:

7 Comments

  • Suzanne November 5, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I just finished Persepolis and really enjoyed it — this book immediately went on my to-read list. I hadn’t heard about Embroideries, though, so maybe I’ll try that one first?

  • Amy November 5, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Hmm… I’m unsure about this. Sounds interesting, but I might not get it either.

  • erisian23 November 10, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    i have been planning on reading this. I have greatly enjoyed other GNs by Satrapi.

    I hope i do not have the same concern you will, but i bet i will.

    if you no longer have your instrument and want to die, go get another instrument… it’s called “dedication to the art”

    i dunno.
    thanks for the review 🙂

    • erisian23 November 10, 2010 at 6:11 pm

      apparently i are bad grammars.

    • Carina November 13, 2010 at 9:09 pm

      I know! I’ve heard lots of great reviews of this book, but it just didn’t do it for me.

  • Helen Murdoch November 19, 2010 at 8:36 am

    I tried leaving a comment when you posted this but the comment graphic wouldn’t appear, so I am back! I think this one isn’t going to make it onto my TBR shelf. However I still plan on reading Embroideries.

    • Carina November 29, 2010 at 9:59 am

      Embroideries is definitely the better one.

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