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For the first time ever, a graphic novel makes it to the Man Booker longlist

American cartoonist Nick Drnaso's Sabrina just made history

Ujjainee Roy @UjjaineeRoy 25 July 2018, 12:36 PM
Sabrina is about the disappearance of a young woman

Sabrina is about the disappearance of a young woman Image: Twitter

A millennial cartoonist should be on your watch list for the Man Booker Prize Awards, because he just made history.

 29-year-old illustrator and cartoonist Nick Drnaso's graphic novel Sabrina has been nominated for the prestigious literary prize and is the first graphic novel to have been made it to the longlist.

Drnaso's book is one of the 13 books to be nominated for the £50,000 prize which has been earlier awarded to names such as Julian Barnes, Aravind Adiga, Hilary Mantel, Kiran Desai, Howard Jacobson, and more.

"We all read it and were blown away by it. The graphic novel has increasingly become front and centre in terms of storytelling and we felt (Sabrina) does just what good fiction should do," crime novelist Val McDermid, who is one of the judges, told The Guardian.

Sabrina, which has been called a "shattering work of art" by critic Ed Park in The New York Times Book Review, mainly navigates the fake-news dominated world, through the story of a disappearance of a girl, and is set in the first year of the Trump presidency.

"The fact that it lines up thematically with some things that are getting a lot of attention right now in the media is an unfortunate coincidence,” Drnaso told Fast Company.

The Chicago-based illustrator is one of the three American names to have been nominated for the prize, which was previously limited to writers from Britain, Ireland, Zimbabwe and Commonwealth countries.

The Booker was opened up to anybody writing in English and in 2016 Paul Beatty became the first American to win the award for his satire The Sellout.

Sabrina, which is only Drnaso's second outing, begins when the titular character goes missing in Chicago. The cartoonist has brought together the political and cultural themes which dominate our every conversation to build up the narrative of the novel.

"Conspiracy theories aside, the 'victims' are chewed up by the media in every horror story. I say victim in quotes because there’s something sad and impersonal about that word, like their life is destined to be a footnote in the story of the person that destroyed them,” Drnaso said.

Drnaso's nomination is a huge moment for global fiction. The New York Times notes that if he does end up winning, it would be almost as historical as the 1992 Pulitzer win of the trailblazing graphic Holocaust memoir Maus by Art Spiegelman.

The Man Booker Prize awards are scheduled to be announced this October.

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