Title: Chicken with Plums
Author: Marjane Satrapi
First Published: 2006
Publisher: Pantheon Books
In a nutshell
Khan's beloved instrument, the tar, is irreparably broken and finds that
no matter how many tars he try, none of them sound right to me.
Convinced that he will never find a good tar, he decides to take to his
bed and let go of his life. The rest of the book shows the next few days
in his life, as the reader comes to understand the breadth of his
decision through flashbacks and through his relationships with other
members of his family.
I am a big fan a Marjane Satrapi's graphic
novels. This is yet another one that didn't disappoint, and I connected with this book more than I expected
Marjane Satrapi's skills as a storyteller are
amazing. There is humor throughout her books, as they tell the state of
affairs. None of her books are light in matter though. While they are
meant to be enjoyed, there are usually very important messages and
social or political themes in them. Her Persepolis I
are her memoirs during the Iranian revolution. Embroideries
brings together the wonderful women in her family one day at tea, when
they share their very sexual problems in life and issues with their
husbands/ex-husbands/boyfriends. Chicken with Plums follows
Nasser Ali Khan's life as a musician, a lover, and a husband.
What I loved most about the book was how very wrong my
understanding of Nasser turned out to be. Can a person really decide to
give up on his life just because his instrument got damaged? I tried to
put myself in Nasser's situation. I'm sure I would be devastated, but
how can I even take such a decision that cuts all my links with every person I
love? I highly admonished Nasser for his train of thought.
Even after all the flashbacks and the complexity of the decision was
revealed, I can't say I forgave him, I can't say I appreciated what he did, since it still smacked of selfishness. He was putting his desire above his children's lives (four, that too). But I appreciated that it wasn't a
childish decision either.
The character I loved the most is Nasser's son, Mozaffar, who is
so talkative that no one on their bus during a journey slept due to his
incessant chatter. I almost felt sorry for Nasser's wife, Nahid, seeing Nasser not give her much regard. Nahid clearly loved and cared for Nasser. Nasser, however, is too blinded by his past to notice.
I enjoyed this book more than I expected to, mainly because it had more in it than I assumed there would be. This book isn't a simple retelling of the fourteen days of a man's life as he waited to die. You could almost see the shock on my face as I turned the last page, as the enormity of the tar's damage clicked into place. The last few pages turn several wheels into place, you could almost hear the clicks as the gears engaged. You know some of those scenes, where piece after disparate piece falls together to form this enormous picture, and with each piece comes a thought of comprehension? That's how it felt reading this book. I will recommend this book to everyone, but it will be easier reading it if you have already read her Persepolis books.
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