Wednesday, 18 March 2009

William Dalrymple: Nine Lives

By pure chance I landed on the website of one of my favorite authors, William Dalrymple, whose new book – Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India – will be published by Bloomsbury in October.

I've copied this excerpt of the accompanying blurb from the Amazon UK website:
"Nine people, nine lives. Each one taking a different religious path, each one an unforgettable story. Exquisite and mesmerizing, and told with an almost biblical simplicity, William Dalrymple's first travel book in a decade explores how traditional forms of religious life in South Asia have been transformed in the vortex of the region's rapid change. Nine Lives is a distillation of twenty-five years of exploring India and writing about its religious traditions, taking you deep into worlds that you would never have imagined even existed."

This promises to be a cracker of a book, and if you want to get a taste for its contents, you can read this article on the devadasis in the New Yorker magazine.

These are the kind of books that ought to be read by all established and aspiring travel-documentary photographers, since they provide ideas for photo-documentary projects, and intellectual/historical texture to successfully develop such projects.

Just before traveling last month to India, I recently re-read parts of Dalrymple's City of Djinns; parts dealing with the Sufi dargahs in Delhi, and this enhanced my appreciation of these sites while I visited them.