Marjorie Satrapi, Chicken with Plums, Translated by Anjali Singh
Publisher: Pantheon Books
2006, 84 pages, $16.95

Iranian-born graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi first made waves with Persepolis and Persepolis2, autobiographical comics about childhood, wartime, and exile. Her latest work of fiction, Chicken with Plums, examines the 1958 death of famed Iranian musician Nasser Ali Khan. In the story, the celebrated tar player’s instrument is broken and his search for a replacement proves futile; he decides he will die. Eight days later, he does.

Nasser Ali Khan’s story is broken up into eight subsequent chapters, each delving into the life and memory of the conflicted, narcissistic artist who, trapped by expectation and unrequited love, has become bitter, angry, and poetic. Satrapi’s controlled storytelling is unflinchingly dark, but layers of Sufi myth, Iranian poetry, and political commentary ground the text in an unexpectedly pleasant reality. The artwork is stunning, as usual.

Satrapi is currently at work on an animated movie version of her 2004 memoir-in-comic-strips Persepolis. She is writing and directing the film, which is expected to be released by Sony Picture Classics in 2007.

-Jack Kaulfus