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The Jameel Library, an integral part of Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai’s contemporary art institution, published its first illustrated novel by Sarnath Banerjee.  ’17-year Cicada’ features ten chapters, released every fortnight 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 a graphic novelist, artist and cofounder of Phatomville, the comics publishing house. Through his books, Banerjee explores the South Asian middle-class nature, delving into themes such as power, masculinity, bureaucracy, rumour, class-system, meritocracy, religion and the uncanny.

He previously produced the “Liquid History of Vasco Da Gama” for the Kochi Biennial, 2014, and “The Poona Circle”, a series of vandalised history textbooks for Pune Biennale, 2017.

In 2019, Banerjee received the Belknap visiting fellowship from Princeton University and CAST award by Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

This commission is conceived to create new pathways to texts, expanding on the idea of a bibliography. Through this commission, the Jameel Library focuses on drawing practices, particularly how drawing informs the readers’ understanding of literature and can make legible theory while providing access across multiple disciplines.

The novel is published every fortnight on the Jameel Arts Centre’s website, and through subscription, readers can be alerted on the release of new chapters.