Book Review: All Deaths Matter by James Tan

All Death Matters is a graphic novel commissioned by Lien Foundation, a Singapore-based philanthropic organisation that helps elderly, children with special needs and people born into low income families. Lien Foundation hopes to bring more awareness to end-of-life planning and palliative care with this book, basically get people to start a "die-logue" about death.

FYI, palliative means "(of a medicine or medical care) relieving pain without dealing with the cause of the condition".

The book's a 72-page paperback with a print run limited to just 100 copies to give away to the public. The book will be available from mid April onwards in public libraries in Singapore. There's also a free PDF e-book that you can download and read.

The story follows Doctor Tan, not the artist, and his interaction with the family of an old man who is dying from cancer. The story is surprisingly moving because it's very relatable. Anyone who has experience the death of a loved one or friends will be able to relate to the stories, the internal turmoil, struggle, uncertainly, hope and despair the family in the book went through. This book may make you think about your parents or your grandparents, or even yourself.

This is not an easy book to read because the subject matter is very serious. Having the story told in the form of a graphic novel makes it more accessible to people. The storytelling is effective. The black and white comic drawings by the artist James Tan is simplistic in style but the characters are have life and you'll feel for them. And you can tell there's research done just because of all the considerations the doctor in the story has to make.

I highly recommend this book.

You can download the PDF at


Add new comment