Acting Class (Hardcover)
I felt spooked and confused each time I paused this book to return to my actual life, which suddenly was alien and false--the life inside this book was my real life. I grieved its ending. -Alia
— From Alia
A brilliant and suspenseful follow-up to the Booker-nominated graphic novel Sabrina.
"Every single person has something unique to them which is impossible to re-create, without exception." —John Smith, acting coach
From the acclaimed author of Sabrina, Nick Drnaso’s Acting Class creates a tapestry of disconnect, distrust, and manipulation. Ten strangers are brought together under the tutelage of John Smith, a mysterious and morally questionable leader. The group of social misfits and restless searchers have one thing in common: they are out of step with their surroundings and desperate for change.
A husband and wife, four years into their marriage and simmering in boredom. A single mother, her young son showing disturbing signs of mental instability. A peculiar woman with few if any friends and only her menial job keeping her grounded. A figure model, comfortable in his body and ready for a creative challenge. A worried grandmother and her adult granddaughter; a hulking laborer and gym nut; a physical therapist; an ex-con.
With thrumming unease, the class sinks deeper into their lessons as the process demands increasing devotion. When the line between real life and imagination begins to blur, the group’s deepest fears and desires are laid bare. Exploring the tension between who we are and how we present, Drnaso cracks open his characters’ masks and takes us through an unsettling American journey.
“Nick Drnaso uses a deadpan, quick-cut drawing style to explore loneliness, paranoia, and the subjectivity of “truth.” It’s all very mysterious, kind of creepy, and extremely suspenseful."—Elena Goukassian, Vulture
"Drnaso again distills quite brilliantly aspects of 21st-century anomie and alienation."—Rachel Cooke, The Guardian
"A wholly unsettling masterclass in disquiet."—Nick Duerden, The Independent
"This fascinating tale about an amateur acting group discovering the tenuous line between artifice and reality kept me reading well into the night. It is at once a commentary on the power of art to reshape us, and on the dangers of conforming. Acting Class is uncanny, wholly original, and deeply satisfying."—Esi Edugyan, Washington Black
“Eerily domestic.”—Shelby Shaw, ArtForum
"Masterfully told, artfully layered, and beautifully rendered, Acting Class shows again that Nick Drnaso is attuned to a particular American ennui and eeriness like no other artist currently at work. He is a unique talent."—Kevin Barry, Night Boat to Tangier
“Inarguably surprising and disturbing… [Drnaso’s] careful building of suspense and overpoweringly eerie mood makes the long build worthwhile well before the final and powerfully cinematic twist.”—Chris Barsanti, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"An incisive exploration of alienation that is increasingly unsettling as it builds to a shocking conclusion."—Tom Batten, Library Journal, Starred Review
"A provocative portrait of the search for connection and meaning in modern life."—Publishers Weekly