City of Glass: The Graphic Novel is a one-volume comics adaptation of American author Paul Auster's novella City of Glass. The story was originally part of The New York Trilogy, and in 1994, David Mazzucchelli and Paul Karasik set out to adapt the offbeat, somewhat surreal short novel into a graphic novel.

The original comic was published by Avon Books as Neon Lit: Paul Auster's City of Glass. The project was somewhat led by influential and popular comics artist Art Spiegelman.[1] The original printing was well-received, and the work was chosen as one of the "The Top 100 English-Language Comics of the Century".[2] In 2004, a new edition of the book was released as City of Glass: The Graphic Novel, which featured an introduction by Spiegelman. In this introduction, Spiegelman calls the graphic novel "a breakthrough work."

The story follows a man named Daniel Quinn. One night, he receives a call meant for a private detective (strangely enough named Paul Auster, the same name as the author of the story). Quinn is intrigued by the phone call, and takes the case. His employers end up being a man, named Peter Stillman, and his wife. Through the course of the narrative, Quinn discovers some surprising things about identity, language, and human nature. He also ends up meeting, not the unseen detective Paul Auster, but writer Paul Auster.

In one section of Paul Auster's original novella, Peter Stillman delivers a long, somewhat disjointed speech about his life and the job that he has for Daniel Quinn. In the comic adaptation, the interplay between words and pictures is particularly interesting, with the word balloons coming less often from Stillman and more often from inkwells, storm drains, and even cave paintings. Spiegelman was particularly impressed with this section of the book, noting how well it translates Auster's description of Stillman's speech patterns.


  1. Kartalopoulos, Bill. "Coffee with Paul Karasik," Indy magazine (Spring 2004).
  2. "The Top 100 English-Language Comics of the Century," (#45) The Comics Journal #210 (February 1999).


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