Chicken with Plums, by Marjane Satrapi. Published: 2006. Click on the cover to buy from your local Book Sense-affiliated independent bookseller.
You may know Marjane Satrapi from her autobiographical two-volume memoir, Persepolis and Persepolis 2, two outstanding graphic novels which were recently made into an Oscar-nominated animated film. She has also published several smaller books, among them the bittersweet and poignant Chicken with Plums.
This book tells the story of her great-uncle, a famous Iranian musician who wills himself to die after his instrument, a tar of great value both sentimental and musical, is irrevocably broken. Satrapi uses her signature stark, graphic black and white pictures to render the story of his last seven days, as he says good-bye to his family and makes peace with his life, going through different relationships and milestones until we learn at the very end what is the true source of his despair.
Chicken with Plums is really different from Satrapi's other works in that for the most part it lacks her customary humor and wit, but typical in that it shows her talent for adding a light touch of grace and humanity to dark subjects. She uses her simple imagery to convey, powerfully and directly, deep hopeless disappointment. Both touching and sad, Chicken with Plums is a tough read but worth it, especially for Satrapi's many admirers.