Anthony Bourdain’s Hungry Ghosts

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This graphic novel is set up a bit like The Canterbury Tales in that it is a set of stories told by a group of people who find themselves thrown together on one night. The storytellers are chefs, all from different backgrounds, brought together to cook one miraculous meal for a good cause, a charity event hosted by a wealthy Russian man. In the chapter sharing his name, Kaidan introduces a game featuring warriors being tested in a game of nerves involving the telling of eerie stories that become more and more frightening as they are told. The following chapters in the book are the stories of this game, and they all involve food in some way, though the connections in some are a bit tangential.

The artwork is arresting; panels vary in size and coloration from story to story. The common thread is a growing terror at the heart of each and a hungry ghost of some sort. Hungry for food, for revenge, for delicacies rare and forbidden. The images are, admittedly, not for the weak of heart or stomach, but this is not a comic book for kids. It is an adult and often disturbing rendering of the way human appetites consume the decency within each of us.

I read this with a heavy heart, as Bourdain is one of my favorite writers, and his voice was lost to us this year, tragically, at his own hand. Perhaps, like the characters in this novel, he was consumed by the depression and anxiety that ate away at him for so many years. We may never know, but Hungry Ghosts gives us one last look into the mind and heart of this brilliant and gifted storyteller.


Reviewed By:

Author Anthony Bourdain • Joel Rose • Alberto Ponticelli, Illustrator • Irene Koh, Illustrator • Paul Pope, Illustrator
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 128 pages
Publisher Berger Books
Publish Date 2018-Oct-02
ISBN 9781506706696
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue December 2018
Category Sequential Art
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