Introduction by Bharati Mukherjee
Published by Welcome Books
Hardcover, $60.00 ($69.00 CAN)
One of the perks of writing my blog, besides getting to know other bloggers of course, is receiving the occasional book to review, so when Welcome Books asked me if I would like to take a look at Eric Meola's new collection of photographs in his new book titled,"India : In Word and Image", I jumped at the chance.
After saying "yes" to Welcome Books I went about my work not thinking too much about it. So, the other day, when I received a box, a rather heavy box I should add, in the mail I quickly opened it (I was curious to find out why the package was so heavy, after all, this was just a book), and was delighted to find, not just any book, but a beautiful ,glossy coffee-table book, about the size of a school atlas, filled to the brim, (yes, all 272 pages of it) with sumptuous color photographs from all over India!!!
From India: In Word and Image (Welcome Books). Photographs © 2008 Eric Meola.
As I leafed through the glorious pictures I found myself completely dazzled by Meola's beautifully-composed photographs. No matter the subject: a caravan of camel riders at dusk; sacred temple towers decorated with a phantasmagoria of multi-armed, blue-skinned Hindu deities ; man bathing in the Ganges or the absolutely stunning art detail of the 15th century Thikse monastery in the Indus Valley, all of Meola's photos are an invitation to share in Meola's skill with the camera and his love of India. And that's not all, Meola's images are interwoven with a personal essay revealing thoughts and insights on his trip to India as well as a feast of literary snippets from well known writers like Salman Rushdie, RK Narayan, Jhumpa Lahiri and so on. It is this ingenious approach - of examining India through fabulous photos and its literary heritage - that gives this book its edge. From India: In Word and Image (Welcome Books). Photographs © 2008 Eric Meola. www.welcomebooks.com/india
Celebrations, people and sacred architecture dominate the book and I am not surprised, after all, religion forms an intricate part of the social fabric of Indian life and with a pantheon that is tens of thousands of gods strong, religious celebrations are in abundance! This is Meola's second book. The first is a collection of photos from what he calls "The Last Places on Earth" where he covered Burma, New Guinea, Africa, India, the Galápagos Islands, Mongolia, India, and Tibet. He returned to India to devote a complete book to the country, because as he says in his personal essay from the book,
“What I see more than anything else is a nation embracing life. Every day there is a celebration, if not dozens, throughout the country, for that is what India is about — a continuous celebration of life and its mysteries.
“As a photographer, I am drawn to India because of the psychedelic colors that seem to permeate every facet of life. I go there for all the contradictions of a place that is like no other I have ever been to; but I am drawn to India because the people are blessed with childhood’s sense of wonder, which they have never lost.”
” From India: In Word and Image (Welcome Books). Photographs © 2008 Eric Meola. www.welcomebooks.com/india
"India: In Word and Image" is a beautiful way to get to know India. Leave it on your coffee table, not only will it look fabulous, but just watch how your guests will be drawn to it (I know I tried it!). Beyond it's silky cover, there's a colorful look at a country so vast that it would take several lifetimes to see it. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a copy this Christmas, its vibrant and warm pictures will give you several hours of joy over the cold winter.
About the Author
Eric Meola published his first book, Last Places on Earth, with Graphis in 2004. In 2006, Welcome Books distributed a book of his photographs of Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run: The Unseen Photos. Eric''s photographs are in private and public collections including the International Center of Photography, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the George Eastman House, and his graphic color images have appeared editorially in numerous magazines, including Life, Travel & Leisure, Esquire, and Time.