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Booker Prize for Fiction > 2018 Booker Longlist: Sabrina

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message 1: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
Sabrina, by Nick Drnaso


message 2: by Ang (new)

Ang | 1685 comments I have ordered this and I look forward to it, given the Zadie Smith quote. I have only ever read one other graphic novel, Maus. It was an okay experience but it didn't set me up to want to read others.


message 3: by Robert (new)

Robert | 1993 comments Ang wrote: "I have ordered this and I look forward to it, given the Zadie Smith quote. I have only ever read one other graphic novel, Maus. It was an okay experience but it didn't set me up to want to read oth..."

Maus was my first graphic novel and that set me on a course to read others.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

I'm looking forward to reading Sabrina


message 4: by Robert (new)

Robert | 1993 comments Here's my review :

https://deucekindred.wordpress.com/20...

I thought it was excellent and it fits in nicely with the overall themes that are present in this year's Booker Longlist


message 5: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3164 comments Mod
I am very doubtful that I will get round to this one - I just don't feel qualified to comment on a genre that I have no interest in, and I struggle with visual stories because my visual memory is terrible. The hardback is a bit pricy too. The author was interviewed by BBC Radio's Front Row last night, and described his own work as comics! And apparently this was written as a form of catharsis but that didn't work...


message 6: by Robert (new)

Robert | 1993 comments Hugh wrote: "I am very doubtful that I will get round to this one - I just don't feel qualified to comment on a genre that I have no interest in, and I struggle with visual stories because my visual memory is t..."

Haha yes - the word graphic novel is the equivalent of the adult themed Harry Potter covers in the early 00's. Apparently the word 'comic' is degrading. Scott McCloud in his essential book Understanding Comics also ditches the term graphic novel and uses the word comics.


message 7: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1647 comments I probably won't get to this for awhile either. The supplier I had ordered from was out of books and doubted he could get any from his supplier for awhile. I see Amazon is out too. I'll wait to see if the ebook is cheaper and buy it then. There are quite a few sample pages on Amazon US and one can get the idea of the book and determine if they would like it.


message 8: by Robert (new)

Robert | 1993 comments Sam wrote: "I probably won't get to this for awhile either. The supplier I had ordered from was out of books and doubted he could get any from his supplier for awhile. I see Amazon is out too. I'll wait to see..."

Even on the drawn and quarterly site - but yes you've got a good indication of Sabrina's tone


message 9: by Ctb (new)

Ctb | 197 comments Better than I expected. Actually, much better.

As a kid I didn't understand why boys read comic books (except that they were boys) and was confounded by the rare girl who did. Comics seemed repetitive and pulpy, shamefully low-class. Bam! Pow!

The only other graphic novel I recall reading is Persepolis. Its details don't persist in memory, but I remember shrugging after reading it and questioning the favorable reviews that led me to it.

I didn't care for the drawings in Sabrina. Maybe everything and everyone is supposed to look bland and indistinguishable and women like men. Too many pages are a strain to read; many frames contain line upon line of tiny print or other small details.

But the story is well told, and only after finishing did I realize that Drnaso was sucking me into the ignorance and paranoia of conspiracy theorists - suspicious of everyone and everything, and anticipating the worst outcomes from the most benign circumstances. How quickly a mind, a perspective, can become warped or be manipulated if not properly fed and exercised.

I read elsewhere that Calvin is absurd and clueless and Drnaso is mocking him, but I find Calvin a fully sympathetic, pitiable character.

Maybe I also read that the book is ironically humorous in places? I found the book thoroughly grave and sobering (and I like black humor). Reading the violent Internet frenzies and listening (yes, I did have the sensation of listening) to the radio talk show fanatic is gut wrenching, worse than the central crime. It's not that it's too soon to be funny. Too soon would imply a rebound or at least a leveling. It's that hell's pit is being feverishly expanded and sucking us down.


message 10: by Robert (new)

Robert | 1993 comments Ctb wrote: "Better than I expected. Actually, much better.

As a kid I didn't understand why boys read comic books (except that they were boys) and was confounded by the rare girl who did. Comics seemed repeti..."




The artwork is similar to Chris Ware, who deliberately does low key drawings in order for the reader to focus on the plot, but however I did feel that the lack of bright colors in the book added to the sombre tone. If you want a list of Amazing Graphic novels I will gladly provide a list of the classics :)

One advantage is that, hopefully, Sabrina will open people's minds about comics. They ARE NOT repetitive NOT pulpy and DEFINITELY NOT low class. There are some, just like in the literary world, for example Archie comics are basically the same story told over and over and over, Harvey comics are over simplistic in their plots but this is a small number.

But if you take superhero comics, you'll be surprised at the inter-textual nuances. Frank Miller's Daredevil reads like Chandler at times, some which reached it's apex in the glorious Sin City comics. Spider-man's predicaments hark back to the love triangles seen in shakespeare. Hulk is the ultimate Jekyll and Hyde tale etc etc. I'm just focusing on Marvel. DC Comic superheros become heros at a young age so their problems start at childhood and are ingrained in their psychology. Image Comics create bizarro complex worlds and so on. I can say more but i'll stop here :)


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5382 comments Fascinating comments Robert. I have this one lined up to read on holiday in the next two weeks.


message 12: by Robert (new)

Robert | 1993 comments Gumble's Yard wrote: "Fascinating comments Robert. I have this one lined up to read on holiday in the next two weeks."

Thanks :)


message 13: by Ctb (new)

Ctb | 197 comments Robert, I think some in this forum not expecting to appreciate Sabrina will realize its worth. I am glad to discover that I am not ossified in my anti-genre bent, or maybe not in any bent, for that matter. I've learned to like brussels sprouts in the last year, too.

I thought I noticed a similarity to Chris Ware's art, but I have scant knowledge of his work. I've given his widely-praised books as gifts to my son who wanted to be a comic book writer when he was a child (that would have made me a fan), so I wasn't sure it was a valid comparison.

Maybe we need a thread for your passion and list of gems.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5382 comments I still cannot face more than the traditional one Brussels sprout with Christmas lunch, but willing to give this a go.


message 15: by Robert (new)

Robert | 1993 comments Ctb wrote: "Robert, I think some in this forum not expecting to appreciate Sabrina will realize its worth. I am glad to discover that I am not ossified in my anti-genre bent, or maybe not in any bent, for that..."

If I can open a thread I will.


message 16: by Tommi (new)

Tommi | 490 comments I’m much less predisposed to dislike this book than Snap, because the latter is limited by its themes that come with the genre, whereas with a graphic novel you can do whatever you want (e.g. in this case address urgent issues), so I’m definitely looking forward to receiving this in the mail (which, I suppose, will take a few weeks w/ international shipping).


message 17: by Ctb (new)

Ctb | 197 comments Gumble's Yard wrote: "I still cannot face more than the traditional one Brussels sprout with Christmas lunch, but willing to give this a go."

Give them another ~15 years.


message 18: by Ang (new)

Ang | 1685 comments Well, what a way to start the Booker longlist. I loved it. I am pretty sure I won't want it to win, but I'd happily see it make the shortlist.

I found myself annoyed a few times though - when several frames in a row were picture only, no words. This is my own limitation, I'm sure, but it wasn't always obvious what was being depicted in the wordless sequences.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5382 comments Fascinating Ang.

Is this your first graphic novel or are you a connoisseur like Robert?


message 20: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Pool I can feel a graphic novel topic being added to the Mookse pantheon!


message 21: by Ang (last edited Jul 27, 2018 02:47AM) (new)

Ang | 1685 comments It's my second graphic novel - I read Maus at my son's urging a couple years ago. There is nothing wrong with Maus but it didn't make me think the story was best told graphically, whereas Sabrina does.


message 22: by Amanda (new)

Amanda (tnbooklover) | 96 comments I finished this last night and loved it. I agree with Ang I would be happy to see this on the shortlist. Very powerful use of the medium. I’m definitely not a graphic novel expert but I’ve read more than a few and this one is definitely in my top 5.


message 23: by Robert (new)

Robert | 1993 comments Ang wrote: "Well, what a way to start the Booker longlist. I loved it. I am pretty sure I won't want it to win, but I'd happily see it make the shortlist.

I found myself annoyed a few times though - when seve..."


I would say this is my one and only complaint about Sabrina - The *silent* sections did not add to the intensity the plot because it was intense from the start.

two wordless graphic novels I highly recommend is Shaun Tan's The Arrival (omg it's gorgeous) and Quentin Blake's - yes that Quentin Blake of Roald Dahl fame - Clown ( an endearing rags to riches story)


message 24: by Ang (new)

Ang | 1685 comments I have always wanted to read Here because I have heard great things about it. I think it is nearly wordless, is that right?


message 25: by Lee (new)

Lee Ang: I can vouch for Here, which has a limited amount of text and probably needs even less. Glorious.


message 26: by Ang (new)

Ang | 1685 comments Ang wrote: "It's my second graphic novel - I read Maus at my son's urging a couple years ago. There is nothing wrong with Maus but it didn't make me think the story was best told graphically, whereas Sabrina d..."

Replying to myself to say that I have been suitably corrected by my sons who reminded me how the people were depicted as animals in Maus. I have to concede that my statement above is bollocks.


message 27: by Marc (last edited Jul 28, 2018 05:49PM) (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 257 comments Never heard of Here--looks like one I'd love.

Silent panels sometimes play a great role in setting both tone and rhythm to a graphic novel, in my opinion. Probably won't tackle Sabrina until next month, but I know Chris Ware uses them rather effectively and there's a wonderful, free web comic (also available in print; following link takes you to the online version), Bird Boy, that does a fantastic job of this, as well (kind of a YA tale, but rather charming).


message 28: by Robert (new)

Robert | 1993 comments Chris ware's jimmy corrigan is stuffed with pauses but it works


message 29: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 257 comments Robert wrote: "Chris ware's jimmy corrigan is stuffed with pauses but it works"

I couldn't agree more!


message 30: by Meg (new)

Meg | 4 comments Just finished Sabrina - my first graphic novel. I found it to be powerful and quiet and weird. Nothing like I've read recently, which is a positive.


message 31: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8733 comments Paris Review's Art of Fiction interviews tend to be among the most illuminating I've read and feature a pretty impressive roster of authors.

Today (I suspect not coincidentally to the Booker) they have reposted an 'Art of Comics' interview with Chris Ware:

https://www.theparisreview.org/interv...


message 32: by Robert (new)

Robert | 1993 comments Paul wrote: "Paris Review's Art of Fiction interviews tend to be among the most illuminating I've read and feature a pretty impressive roster of authors.

Today (I suspect not coincidentally to the Booker) they..."


Thanks for sharing! I always had an inkling that there's an element of experimental film in Ware's work (I could imagine him a Tarkovsky fan)


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5382 comments Just posted my review complete with my specially commissioned (admittedly for another purpose) graphic frame.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

If you can’t beat em ...


message 34: by Meike (last edited Jul 31, 2018 11:44AM) (new)

Meike (meikereads) I'm with Robert on this one: I'm all for including different forms of storytelling in the Booker list as long as the quality justifies it - in this case, it does.

I liked the quiet minimalism Drnaso employs to tell his story, and which contrasts directly with the loud media outrage he depicts. He draws with very few lines, there is nothing that wouldn't be necessary to tell the story. The reader has to look very closely at the faces to see the nuance in the expressions - and it is the need for nuance, for close attention and an acute awareness that this author wants to highlight in his story.

An important theme in the book is loneliness: The dialogue often consists of polite, but empty phrases, many images show just one person in a lonely room, hall or street, the story hints at different dimensions of alienation, and the coloring is very bleak and within a limited range. In this context, Drnaso discusses how and to what ends acts of violence like abductions, murders or mass shootings are committed in the media age, how the news cycle spins and how victims and their families are victimized a second time as a consequence of sensationalist reporting and the way some viewers react to it.

Here's my review.


message 35: by Val (new)

Val | 1016 comments I have a couple of questions for those of you who have read it.

Would it work on a kindle paperwhite?

What criteria did you use for comparing it with text only books?
(The difficulty of comparing them is why I have reservations about the book being on the list, not the format or the book itself.)


message 36: by Robert (new)

Robert | 1993 comments Val wrote: "I have a couple of questions for those of you who have read it.

Would it work on a kindle paperwhite?

What criteria did you use for comparing it with text only books?
(The difficulty of comparing..."

I had a digital copy which I read on a tablet and laptop. I had no problems.

As for criteria - A plot with depth, complex emotions, symbolism/metaphors and the ability to convey a message clearly with room for reflection - basically something and handful of longlisted Booker novels have :)


message 37: by Neil (last edited Jul 31, 2018 12:09PM) (new)

Neil | 1884 comments Val wrote: "I have a couple of questions for those of you who have read it.

Would it work on a kindle paperwhite?

What criteria did you use for comparing it with text only books?
(The difficulty of comparing..."


I wouldn't read it on my Kindle Voyage - it needs to be in colour. I am, however, reading on my iPad which is working perfectly well (and costs about 1/3 of the paper version).

I don't have any problem comparing it against other books on the list because I think it's about the things Robert mentions. It is one way to communicate those things.


message 38: by Val (new)

Val | 1016 comments Thank you Robert and Neil.
I don't have an iPad or tablet. I do have a laptop and PC, so will use those.


message 39: by Neil (last edited Jul 31, 2018 01:55PM) (new)

Neil | 1884 comments I've just finished. I agree with Robert and Meike (well, as you know, I always agree with Meike, or she agrees with me if I happen to get there first).

I feel sure this book could have been written in words, but this author doesn't do his books that way. The fact that he chooses images doesn't, in my view, detract from the overall purpose which is to tell a story and communicate some messages. You can do that in words or in pictures and, as long as the story is strong and the method of communication selected is of a high enough quality, I don't see why it can't work.

I'm not sure whether you can call the end result "literature", though - I'm still thinking that one through. I'm not sure where to put this on my rankings list until I've made up my mind on that one. For now, I will rank it based on enjoyment, but I may have to disqualify it - someone persuade me not to do that!


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5382 comments I am with you Neil in your indecision on this, I have temporarily disqualified it in my draft rankings but am very open to be persuaded not to.

Clearly this book works as an art form but should it be Booker eligible and if it is should not other forms be considered - for example what about conceptual music albums like American Idiot which had a lot to say on contemporary America and mixed words with music.

I think my issue is that the Booker is a (possibly too) narrowly prescribed prize - no short story collections, no translated fiction for example, so extensions don’t seem natural.

And I also feel uneasy that, even if the results are much better, this is still part of the same judging panel dynamic that lead to Snap making the list i.e. a judge from a genre or medium not previously seen as Booker material, advancing a book from their specialism.

But I am really unsure on all of the above.


message 41: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1884 comments Yes, those are almost exactly the questions I am asking myself. Well, actually, exactly the questions, no "almost". I've currently ranked it based on how much I enjoyed it, so given it the benefit of the doubt, but you have expressed my worries about it far better than I could have done.


message 42: by Roland (last edited Aug 01, 2018 02:43AM) (new)

Roland Freisitzer (rolandf) | 66 comments Have just received mine. I'm quite surprised by the size of it. Well, time for my first graphic novel.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5382 comments I think you will enjoy it. It was the first time for a number of us I think.


message 44: by Roland (new)

Roland Freisitzer (rolandf) | 66 comments Gumble's Yard wrote: "I think you will enjoy it. It was the first time for a number of us I think."

Thanks! Yes, I believe so too… am something like 20 pages in and enjoying it...


message 45: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 448 comments I can't possible see how this book meets the eligibility requirements for the Booker prize. Over and over again the rules state that the eligible work must be a novel, but nowhere is 'novel' defined. Looking at various dictionaries, it is clear that the standard definition includes the requirement of a 'prose narrative'. And 'prose' is in turn defined as language. So a novel is language. Graphic novels are pictures with or without language. Sabrina has a minimal amount of language. Try reading pages at random and determine the importance of the picture (total) and the words (minimal). Sorry, but this work fails the standard definition of a novel, and is thus not eligible under the Booker rules.


message 46: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8733 comments Agreed. If the Booker Foundation had chosen the 50th anniversary to formally and publicly widen the eligibility of the rules, arguing the 'novel form' is now more diverse, then perhaps fair enough. The problem is that this seems one particular jury reinterpreting the rules, and in rather personally biased directions (if one of the judges was a film director there would likely be a movie or a boxset).


message 47: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
Let me third this. I like graphic novels, but the picture is absolutely quintessential to the story. What, are we going to start awarding lyrics without accompanying music literature prizes? Ah, yes. We are. Still agree that this is an unfortunate trend.


message 48: by Robert (new)

Robert | 1993 comments Lascosas wrote: "I can't possible see how this book meets the eligibility requirements for the Booker prize. Over and over again the rules state that the eligible work must be a novel, but nowhere is 'novel' define..."

Welll in a sense I disagree as it depends on the comic. Wordy Graphic Novels :

Alan Moore - From Hell
David Hughes - Walking the Dog
Rick Veitch - Can't get no - which is so wordy that the picture does not change within it's 200 pages.

BUT

A comic is defined as Sequential Art.

But honestly what's wrong with thinking outside the box?? I don't think we should be restricted by parameters, also we have to understand the current culture - The World Wide Web has bred a generation of people (I'm 40 - part of that inbetween/lost generation) who rely more on visuals so I'm not surprised at the inclusion of a comic.

The Booker has always been cutting edge in some way or another and this is another step. If the judging panel will include more artistically inclined people then this is not this first time we will see a graphic novel in the longlist.


message 49: by Roland (last edited Aug 01, 2018 11:53PM) (new)

Roland Freisitzer (rolandf) | 66 comments I've now finished "Sabrina" and I admit that I'm a bit torn.

On the one side, I really enjoyed it. With some smallish reservations concerning the characters though, at least if how I read the mimics in my interpretation is correct. Also, as somebody without any experience in reading graphic novels (or, in childhood or later, comics), I was reminded by what comics had lacked in my opinion so as to put me off reading them when every one of my friends was reading them: the simplicity of the text. I do understand though that Nick Drnaso is so good at drawing his figures and plot that any more complex text would probably be an Intrusion. I did like the "silent moments" very much. And I do believe that this is, in the medium it is devised and executed in, extremely good. Whatever doubts I had before, they were gone quickly and I really enjoyed "Sabrina".

In a very different way though than I enjoyed Guy Gunaratne's "In Our Mad and Furious City" (to name the book I have so far enjoyed most from this year's longlist as example) or any other really well written, stimulating, captivating prose text. Hence, I am finding it really hard to understand where and how I could possibly rank "Sabrina". It is a bit like arguing (with myself) about what is better, a brilliant opera (say Mozart's Don Juan) or a brilliant Symphony (say Mahler's 6th). So while liking it (I believe I will continue my adventures in this medium with some Chris Ware and Nick Drnaso's other book), I am not sure it is fair to compare Nick Drnaso with the other writers longlisted. Not fair to Drnaso or the others.

I do assume that it will make the shortlist though, it just has to, the first nomination of a Graphic Novel can't just exit as a longlister, right? Actually, I wouldn't really be surprised if it goes on to win the Booker this year...


message 50: by Ang (new)

Ang | 1685 comments Sabrina is so true to life and frightening.

We are Q

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/m...


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