Jamil Library Features its First Graphic Novel

Jameel Library is an open contemporary arts research centre dedicated to cultural histories of the Gulf and its neighbouring regions, located at the heart of the Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai. The growing multimedia library collection features books, journals, catalogues, theses, artists’ files and ephemera in both English and Arabic.

Recently Jameel Library featured its first illustrated novel by Sarnath Banerjee titled ‘17-year Cicada’, with ten-chapter entries released every fortnight starting 18 January 2021 on Jameel Arts Centre’s website.

17-year Cicada is an episodic account of a young woman trapped in a vast library. She goes through the stages of denial, anger and acceptance. Surrendering to her fate she roams around the desolate reading rooms, walks between the shelves, takes selfies and eats from the well-stocked refrigerator. Sometimes she has imaginary conversations. The place feels like the furthest outpost of the Gobi Desert.

Sarnath Banerjee is an Indian graphic novelist, artist, filmmaker and co-founder of the comics publishing house, Phantomville.

Banerjee was born in Calcutta and lives and works in Delhi, India. He studied image and communication at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

His first novel, Corridor (2004), published by Penguin Books, India, was commissioned as a part of a fellowship awarded by the MacArthur Foundation, Chicago and marketed as India’s first graphic novel. However, River of Stories, a graphic novel by Orijit Sen published in 1994, actually holds this honor. His second novel, The Barn Owl’s Wondrous Capers, was published in 2007.

Sarnath has also provided illustrations for novels by other authors. He designed the cover for Upamanyu Chatterjee’s novel, Weight Loss.

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