CHICKEN WITH PLUMS

CHICKEN WITH PLUMS
Written and Drawn by Marjane Satrapi
Published by Pantheon Comics

Coming off of PERSEPOLIS 1&2 and EMBROIDERIES, I was interested to see what direction Satrapi would take with her next project. Those memoirs were not only remarkably distinct in their tone and voice, they also had a feeling of history that is rare in sequential art. As it turns out, CHICKEN WITH PLUMS is quite different than her earlier work, and that turns out to be a very good thing. This wonderful look at one man’s final week on Earth delivers an emotional and visceral punch that sticks with the reader.

CWP is the story of Nasser Ali, Satrapi’s great-uncle. He was one of Iran’s most celebrated tar players, a figure of great respect. But after his instrument is broken, his spirit begins a downward spiral, and he takes to his bed willing himself towards death. As eight days pass, we learn, through a flashback and flash-forward structure interspersed with the visits his family makes (or don’t make, for that matter) what really lies at the heart of his pain and wish to die. And the case begins to build, both for and against, whether or not this man has reason and cause to undertake this final journey.

Satrapi’s art has come a long way since PERSEPOLIS, gaining some grace and fluidity that was not there before. She has also grown in her mastery and use of shadow and negative space, giving her pages more emotional depth and pathos than her earlier works. In short, this is an excellent work, demonstrating that the author will continue to be a force on the graphic novel scene for some time to come. She looks to just be getting started in figuring out just how good she’s going to be.

Marc Mason