Magazine article World Literature Today

Sabrina

Magazine article World Literature Today

Sabrina

Article excerpt

Nick Drnaso Sabrina Montreal. Drawn & Quarterly. 2018. 203 pages.

It's no secret that graphic novels have come of age in the twenty-first century in the sense that they are now taken seriously by readers and reviewers. No longer do we point to Maus and move on. In the case of Nick Drnaso's Sabrina, the first graphic novel to make the longlist for a major literary prize, the Man Booker, the power of the graphic novel to dissect and examine our cultural moment is indisputable.

The plotline is simple: a woman we meet briefly disappears and eventually is revealed as having been murdered. But it is not the suspense of the plot that holds us, nor is it the minimalist drawings. There are no artistic pyrotechnics here, and Drnaso never varies from a fairly routine grid design. But he clearly demonstrates that quotidian life in post-9/11 America is anything but simple.

Sabrina disappears in Chicago after some brief scenes with her sister Sandra. Her boyfriend, Teddy, goes to Colorado to stay with an old high school friend, Calvin Stroebel, a programmer for the air force. They were never close friends, but they are both going through crises-the loss of a girlfriend and the end of a marriage. In many ways, they are each the definition of isolation, even though neither they nor we know what is going through their minds. Cal is required to fill out periodic DOD mental-health surveys requiring responses that range from one to five and end with a yes-or-no question about whether he wants to see a clinical psychologist. …

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