Chicken With Plums by Marjane Satrapi is a quite interesting graphic novel. The setting is Iran in 1958. This is very different from most graphic novels I have read. It is quite serious. The comic book is an allegorical tale about the death of Nasser Ali Khan, a famous tar player from Iran. The story is quite dark. People are drawn in a stark black and white with lines under the eyes showing grief or sadness most of the time. Quite a few people are smoking.
The story begins with Nahid, Nasser's wife breaking the tar, a musical instrument given to him by his teacher. This pushes Nasser into a suicidal depression. He can find no tar as good as the one his master gives him. After the tar is broken, his slow death is told in eight chapters, each a reflection on his life.
The title Chicken With Plums is Nasser's favorite dish which his wife tries to cheer him up with. It only drives him into deeper despair. He then reflects on his brother who was a communist, his children, his wife, and his lost love. During his reflections there are two allegories he experiences the first is the allegory of the elephant in the darkened room, the second is the angel of death in India. He also has some very strange dreams. He dreams that he is sleeping with the actress Sophia Loren.
I liked this story. However, it is a very dark story and a bit depressing. I would not recommend this book for teenagers. It is about artistic despair, ennui, and the hardness of life. Marjane Satrapi also wrote Persepolis a graphic novel about life in contemporary Iran. I like her writing and drawing. I am waiting for the film of Persepolis to come out on dvd.