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“The characters in Dhaliwal’s stories sparkle. They’re tenderly rendered and their problems are real... The struggle of the cyclops unfolds in metaphors for race, sexuality, gender, and disability, tangling with ideas about fetishization, interracial relationships, passing, and representation.“—Carmen Maria Machado, author of In The Dream House
Following the critical and popular success of Woman World—the hit Instagram comic which appeared on 25 best of lists—Aminder Dhaliwal returns with Cyclopedia Exotica. Also serialized on instagram to her 250,000 followers, this graphic novel showcases Dhaliwal’s quick wit and astute socio-cultural criticism.
In Cyclopedia Exotica, doctor’s office waiting rooms, commercials, dog parks, and dating app screenshots capture the experiences and interior lives of the cyclops community; a largely immigrant population displaying physical differences from the majority. Whether they’re artists, parents, or yoga students, the cyclops have it tough: they face microaggressions and overt xenophobia on a daily basis. However, they are bent on finding love, cultivating community, and navigating life alongside the two-eyed majority with patience and the occasional bout of rage.
Through this parallel universe, Dhaliwal comments on race, difference, beauty, and belonging, touching on all of these issues with her distinctive deadpan humour steeped in millennial references. Cyclopedia Exotica is a triumph of hilarious candor.
"The lives of ten characters in the same city intertwine as each grapples with living in an otherized body. Their physical differences are fetishized, marketed to, discriminated against, and misunderstood, as bodies are in our own world. What to do when people see your single eye but not yourself? Rage about it, laugh about it, make art about it, and work to change the world for the better. Aminder Dhaliwal is such a deft and clever storyteller! This book made me giggle and made me think, and it fueled my own determination to continue pushing for real social change."-Maia Kobabe, author of Gender Queer: A Memoir
"Unflinching satire, eye brow-waggling commentary, and thought-provoking pearls on the topic of those who occupy marginalized identities. I didn’t expect to laugh out loud at a complicated depiction of people at war with themselves and with everyone else, as they try to assimilate (or stand apart). For anyone who has experienced the turbulence and pride of being “othered” in a dominant society, Cyclopedia Exotica will serve you equal parts reassurance and wistful pain."- Hellen Jo, cartoonist, illustrator, and translator of Uncomfortably Happily