Nick Drnaso, the author of the first graphic novel longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, speaks to us.

In this Man Booker 2018 longlist interview Nick Drnaso talks about his time at art school and where some of the visuals in Sabrina came from. 

Publication date and time: Published

What’s it like being the first graphic novel to make the longlist? 

I feel uncomfortable with the attention. I don’t know what to say about it. The publishers are happy, so I’m happy for them. I worry that including a comic book is just detracting from the other authors on the list, not to mention frustrating the people who feel it doesn’t qualify. They’re pretty different forms of art, so I totally understand. Again, I don’t know what to say. I’m happy as a cartoonist. There are a lot of good cartoonists working right now, so I don’t know why this book was singled out. 

How did you get into creating graphic novels? Were there any specific graphic novels that inspired you? 

I was in community college with no plans for the future, so it was nice to discover something I enjoyed doing at a time when I was pretty directionless. Then I transferred to art school and took classes with Ivan Brunetti, who has become one of my best friends. He let me borrow a lot of books when I was a student. 

Where did the idea for the story come from? 

At the time, about four years ago, I was pretty reclusive and afraid to go outside. I just couldn’t stop these horrific images from popping into my head, so that somehow turned into the basis for this story. At some point, I started thinking about an old friend of mine who was in the Air Force in Colorado, and invented this scenario where two friends reconnect after a tragedy. I visited him in 2014 to take reference photos for the book. A lot of the visuals and interiors came from that trip. 

Favourite Man Booker-winning novel? 

This is pathetic, but I’ve only read Lincoln in the Bardo, so I guess that is my favourite. 

What are you working on next? 

I’ve written and drawn a few short stories, really more like chapters of another book. It’s unformed at this point, so it’s too early to say much about it. 

Nick Drnaso