Fun Home, subtitled A Family Tragicomic, is a 2006 graphic memoir by the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel, author of the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. It chronicles the author’s childhood and youth in rural Pennsylvania, United States, focusing on her complex relationship with her father. The book addresses themes of sexual orientation, gender roles, suicide, emotional abuse, dysfunctional family life, and the role of literature in understanding oneself and one’s family. Writing and illustrating Fun Home took seven years, in part because of Bechdel’s laborious artistic process, which includes photographing herself in poses for each human figure.
Fun Home has been both a popular and critical success, and spent two weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list. In The New York Times Sunday Book Review, Sean Wilsey called it “a pioneering work, pushing two genres (comics and memoir) in multiple new directions.” Several publications named Fun Home as one of the best books of 2006; it was also included in several lists of the best books of the 2000s. It was nominated for several awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award and three Eisner Awards (one of which it won). A French translation of Fun Home was serialized in the newspaper Libération; the book was an official selection of the Angoulême International Comics Festival and has been the subject of an academic conference in France. Fun Home has been the subject of numerous academic publications in areas such as biography studies and cultural studies, as part of a larger turn towards serious academic investment in the study of comics/sequential art.
Fun Home also generated controversy: a public library in Missouri removed Fun Home from its shelves for five months after local residents objected to its contents, and the book’s use in universities in Utah and South Carolina has been challenged.
Bechdel later traced her maternal relationship in Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama.
In 2013 a musical adaptation of Fun Home at The Public Theater enjoyed multiple extensions to its run, with book and lyrics written by Obie Award-winning playwright Lisa Kron, and score composed by Tony Award-nominated Jeanine Tesori. The production, directed by Sam Gold, was called “the first mainstream musical about a young lesbian.” As a musical theatre piece, Fun Home was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, while winning the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical, the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical, and the Obie Award for Musical Theater. The Broadway production opened in April 2015, and earned an even dozen nominations for the 69th Tony Awards, winning the Tony Award for Best Musical.
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