Olivier Follmi, Author, Nicholas Elliott, Translator, Radhika Jha, Introduction by , intro. by Radhika Jha. Abrams $55 (345p) ISBN 978-0-8109-5949-1

In her introduction to this exquisite collection of photographs, novelist Jha (Smell ) writes, "To be in India is to be assaulted by sensations, smells, colors, emotions, questions; to struggle to find answers; and to face your innermost desires and fears." Photographer Föllmi's beautiful images of India's people deftly convey this headiness while focusing on the micro: a young woman leading her herd of goats down a shady path; four wanderers in Pushkar sitting together on a decrepit wall; a man practicing yoga at dusk; two Brahman pilgrims wading into the waters of the Ganges. Föllmi, who first traveled to India in the 1970s and led tourists on Himalayan treks, submits 200 full-color photographs and illustrations that are overwhelmingly upbeat in their depiction of the vast country's inhabitants. Religion features prominently, as do cultural and social rituals. Captions at the back of the book explain the images, defining words like kalarippayat (a predecessor of all martial arts that also includes healing techniques) and explaining such traditions as facial ornamentation. Even potentially clichéd images—such as that of a man riding an elephant alongside a grouping of palm trees, seen in silhouette—are compelling, thanks to the photographs' brilliant hues and the illuminating accompanying text. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 11/07/2005
Release date: 11/01/2005
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