Wednesday, October 29, 2008

India : In Word and Image by Eric Meola

Photographs by Eric Meola

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.

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.

"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.


Sanjay said...

Lotus, How have you been? what a splendid review of what seems to be a truly wonderful book!

I loved reading the narrative of how you got the book and the opening of the package and the segue in to the colorful world of this book.

I already love this book and I have not yet bought it! I will be placing an order for this book today and your review has a lot to do with it.

Just curious.. did Meola cover trains in India in his photos?
Color is so integral to life in India. A lot of people have said that about the country and it's people, but none has captured it in stunning detail as Meola.
Thank you for telling us about this book.
Have a great remainder of the week.

iselldreams said...

photos look amazing...
and i wish i could have access to enter the world of this book....

Laura said...

Wow! I look forward to seeing this book in person! The photography is just sparkling! We have his photo book about Bruce Springsteen.

Hope all is well with you!!

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Sanjay!

I've been fine, thanks! Happy Belated Diwali to you and yours, did you have a fun time?

You know, when I said "yes" to Welcome Books, I was in Cambodia so I never did get the opportunity to get an online view of the book, hence the crazy excitement when I saw the book for the first time after it arrived at my door in a nice, big box and covered in bubble wrap! :)

What a great question and sadly, no, there are no pictures of trains in the book! Maybe we can suggest it to him. Like color, trains are also an integral part of India because that is how atleast 70% or more of India's population travels!

I hope you enjoy your copy as much as I did when it arrives.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Iselldreams!

YOu should visit Eric Meola's mini website at Welcome Books to enjoy a slide show of pictures from the book. Being the Indophile that you are, you will love them!

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Laura

Yes, everything is just great here thank you! How are you? Do you still get to read a lot or has scrapbooking taken over completely? :) Yes, I read Meola did the pictures for the "Born to Run" album cover as well. He is a great photographer and has such an eye for detail...I have enjoyed his photos so much and continue to do so.

Sanjay said...

Hey Lotus, thank you for the belated Diwali wishes and I wish you and your family the same!
Our Diwali was ok, being a week day and all. How about you?
I can imagine what a surprise the book must have been given you had not seen any teasers of it.
Ya too bad that there are no trains, but that still takes nothing away from the book I am sure?
Thanks and have a great weekend ahead!

Sanjay said...

Lotus, I just ordered the book from Amazon! Can hardly wait to receive it! :-). Thank you for telling us about this book!!!

iselldreams said...

Hi Lotus,
omg...i just got angry with myself after reading ur comment....
How can i skip such a colorful website....i really loved them...the colors are really breath-taking....
thnx a lot for the advice/share:)

myza said...

I just found your website when I was searching through the "Naked Without Books" site. This is a wonderful blog and I have a written down more than 20 books that I have never heard of and now really want to read.


Tara said...

Hi! How are you? This book looks gorgeous -what a cover! I'm going to see if my library has this.

Id it is said...

I like the idea of putting together photographs with little snippets from writers of Indian origin alongside...
I'm curious about this author; thanks for the heads up.

Kaosar said...

It looks like an amazing book - a great find. And your words on it conveyed that you indeed did enjoy it.

Lotus Reads said...

@Sanjay ~ So thrilled you ordered the'll have to tell me what you think once you receive it!

@iselldreams ~ You're so welcome! BTW, I have ordered my first two "Duman" albums...I cannot wait for them to arrive!

@Myza ~ Thanks so much! It means a lot to me that you took the time to write me a comment and to let me know this blog's been helpful to you. Please visit again when you can.

Lotus Reads said...

@Tara~ Hello!!! I know, it's been a long time. How have you been? I've been so busy with work I've been very,very infrequent in blogger's land. I truly miss my fellow bloggers...hope I can get back to regular blog visits soon.

@Id ~ You're welcome! This is truly a most unusual book...hope you get a chance to look through it.

@Kaosar ~ Thank you! I am glad to have been able to convey my delight in the book to my readers. Thank you for stopping by!

Hollydolly said...

Hello Anjali:

So wonderful you posted a review of this amazing book. I have not had a chance to look at it yet, but have been thinking about it for a while. Now my mind is made is a must have. Like Sanjay, I will be placing an order for it today, and tell "D" it is his early Christmas present to me.
BTW, he is recently back from spending 10 days in Dubai and 2 weeks in Delhi. He loved every minute.

Hope you are well, your blog is amazing as always.
Love and warm hugs,

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Sylvia!

Gosh, it has been a loooong time, how are you? YES! This book would make an awesome Christmas gift for "D", I know he will love it! Did D go east on business? Will you be travelling anytime soon yourself?

Much love to you

Anali said...

Hi Lotus! What a gorgeous looking book! : )

Erin said...

This is a great website! I'm going to add your blog to my blogroll. Would you like to exchange links? My book blog is

You're a great writer! Keep it up :)

gs said...

hi lotus
long time no hear.i am buying eric meola's book right away! .wonderful pictures and (wonderfuler) review.

Lotus Reads said...

@Anali ~ It absolutely is! It lights up my coffee table and always provides fodder for conversation!

@Erin ~ What a sweet first-time comment. THank you. I would like to return the favor so I am going to visit your blog shortly.

@gs ~ I have missed you!!!!!!! Where have you been? I wanted to wish you for Diwali and it completely slipped my mind. I am so sorry, I hope you had a good one? I know you will enjoy Meola's book.

Movie Gravity said...

Great website. My interes on India has grow since the last indian movie Slumdog Millionare. Great Job!

Mãos de Lótus said...

Hi Lotus reads. hope you are ok. i have a dream: to go to India. not only for travelling but also to studying alternative medicines, which is my work.i found this post and your blog amazing ;)
i wish all good for you***
big kiss, cláudia