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Bitter Medicine

  • Publication Date: March 15, 2010
  • ISBN: 9781551119281 / 1551119285
  • 264 pages; 10" x 6"

In 1976, Ben Martini was diagnosed with schizophrenia. A decade later, his brother Olivier was told he had the same disease. For the past thirty years the Martini family has struggled to comprehend and cope with a devastating illness, frustrated by a health care system lacking in resources and empathy, the imperfect science of medication, and the strain of mental illness on familial relationships.

Throughout it all, Olivier, an accomplished visual artist, drew. His sketches, comic strips, and portraits document his experience with, and capture the essence of, this all too frequently misunderstood disease. In Bitter Medicine, Olivier’s poignant graphic narrative runs alongside and communicates with a written account of the past three decades by his younger brother, award-winning author and playwright Clem Martini. The result is a layered family memoir that faces head-on the stigma attached to mental illness.

Shot through with wry humour and unapologetic in its politics, Bitter Medicine is the story of the Martini family, a polemical and poetic portrait of illness, and a vital and timely call for action.

“This is a rare and powerful book. It gives the meaning of love without talking of love. It is both heartbreaking and truly victorious. It tells us clearly that mental illness is a dimension of ‘normal’ the way that shadow is a dimension of light. And we should walk with our shadows.” – Dragan Todorovic, author of The Book of Revenge

W.O. Mitchell Prize, 2011 (winner)
Alberta Trade Non-Fiction Book of the Year, 2011 (winner)
Wilfred Eggleston Award for Non-Fiction, 2011 (short-listed)

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