Seth is the pen name of the Canadian cartoonist Gregory Gallant, and I think he’s a genius. I can still remember exactly where I was sitting as I turned the sepia pages of It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken – a shaggy dog story about his search for an obscure (fictional) cartoonist called Kalo, and a book that changed my reading life (it was one of the first graphic novels I truly loved). All the same, nothing could have prepared me for Clyde Fans, a book that has been 10 years in the making. There is a kind of magic in this one. For a long time – it runs to almost 500 pages – you think you’re reading the story of two elderly brothers. It’s a terribly sad story, but it also feels quite small and clenched and familiar. Only when you finally put it down, do you realise you were utterly wrong. Out of the particular springs the universal. What Seth has given us is nothing short of the story of mid-20th century capitalism: of all that it promised, and all that it failed to deliver... Seth draws in shades of blue and black – the colours of melancholy, and of (to me) smoky jazz – and he pays special attention to things like advertising hoardings, rotary telephones and greasy diners. The look of Clyde Fans, like all his books, is nostalgic without being sentimental. But it’s his extraordinary empathy that marks this one out: the way he depicts the queasy churn of his characters’ emotional lives; their delusions and missteps and repressed rage.