The Widow Basquiat is Suzanne Mallouk, a half-Palestinian Canadian woman who was Jean-Michel Basquiat's girlfriend. I realize that to call her Basquiat's girlfriend is to diminish her, and of course she was much more--an artist and singer of some renown--but it seems that much of her identity, and her lack of desire to sustain her own artistic careers was wrapped up in her affair with "Jean," as she called him.
WB is a short, painterly story told by Mallouk's good friend Jennifer Clement, who herself appears in the story toward the end, in addition to quotes from Mallouk. This is the second book I've read so far this year that is written about a living person's life by someone other than that person. Both are done with love, by someone the subject is close to, but it still feels a little...intrusive to me. Friends of mine were discussing a similar discomfort with The Argonauts, and a cis woman writing about a trans partner. What do y'all think?
Anyway, Mallouk is drawn with love, but also honesty. Be wary if you don't want to be confronted with a lot of cocaine, heroine, morning drinking, codependency, and other self-destructive behaviors. As much as it's Mallouk's story, it's also Basquiat's. You probably know something of his short, tormented life. If you read this book, you'll know more. How he viewed museums as another white plantation, how he felt he constantly had to prove himself by spending a lot of money and tipping enormously, how he had childhood demons lashed into his skin, how he idolized people who died of drug overdoses.