Friday, September 26, 2014
The books tell a personal story of girl, who left her joint family in Kolkata, run by a patriarchal grandfather to Bangalore to find her own footing and then returns home to a nostalgia, which is at once real and imaginary.
I liked how the pictures are arranged and how the authors trusts the pictures, mostly buildings and objects, as opposed to the human face (when there is a human face appears, its mostly the author’s own; the other people are shown in parts, hands, feet…), and how the words are used (very sparingly, I must say), to heightened the sense of conflict.
Yet, I was not convinced if the book is genuine or just a vanity project. I gave it away to a friend, a poet and photographer as a gift and the next day, he wrote to me, saying that the book was a masterpiece. He couldn’t sleep the whole night getting immersed in the book. There you have it, the best possible blurb.
In her Linkedin profile, Gupta writes about Fifty Seven by Eight: “Sometimes when I think back, maybe it was just easier to be answerable to my grandfather.
Or rather to be answerable to anyone but myself.”
57/8 is a story about a personal search for identity, faith and clarity in an environment where everything is provided for and yet nothing is given. Where one man’s word is law and new laws are made everyday. Where three generations of women live, pray and laugh together, yet, will only fend for themselves. And where God is sacred only when someone decides how sacred he must be.
It is about living together and living alone. It is about wanting space and then not needing it. It is about not knowing what you want. It is about new roads and old lanes.
And it is about home, everyone’s safe haven.
And this is from publisher, Westland/Tranquebar: In this stunning debut novel, Samira Gupta explores what it is to grow up in an oppressive, patriarchal environment, where one man's word is law. With powerful black-and-white phtographs, she tells a story about a personal search for identity, faith and clarity in an environment where everything is provided for and yet nothing is given. Where three generations of women live, pray and laugh together, and yet each fends only for herself. With humour and great insight, Gupta paints a poignant picture of a girl trying to find herself, veering between wanting space and not needing it, between self-doubt and resilient confidence. Is the rambling 57/8 her home and safe haven, or a place that will splinter away all her individuality? Taking the reader through new roads and old lanes with perception, sensitivity, originality and wit, Gupta's is an exciting new voice to watch out for.