Desert  prose

Two travel enthusiasts and photographers combine reportage with fiction in their new book, based on the Pushkar festival in Rajasthan, and the little-known community of part-Indian jews

Published: 26th October 2017 10:52 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th October 2017 07:30 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A Fine line separates the aspects of truth and reality from fiction and make-believe in photo-fiction, a new genre that the duo of Deepa Rachel Pinto and Ram Prakash claim to have created. The two ardent travel enthusiasts and childhood friends have released a new book, And The Desert Will Bloom, which they’re calling  the first ever photo-fiction novel around.

Essentially a blend of fact, fiction and photographs, photo-fiction as a concept has  tremendous potential, they enthuse. “At a time when reading books is on the decline or taken over by tablets, a concept like this rekindles the appeal of reading and the charm of the conventional book form,” offers Deepa.

And The Desert Will Bloom sets out as a saga of love, agony and hope, in an eight-day love story at Pushkar, Rajasthan, the world’s largest  camel fair, which is known to be extremely colourful and chaotic.
The book picks on challenges that the fair faces in sustenance, weaving in the lives of a handful  of Jewish protagonists.

All is fair in love

The story is recounted by Avi,  who belongs to a little-known  community (and India’s smallest minority) of part-Indian Jews. Following the character Levana, as she travels to Pushkar in a  harrowing hunt for her brother Noah, the story moves through Israel’s rise as a nation, exploring the Israel-India connection, particularly on the Hummus Trail, through a string of what they call ‘Israelised’ villages, across India.
And The Desert Will Bloom is the duo’s first novel in the series, points out Deepa.

“Our first photo- fiction book is a set  of four short stories. The other is a novel-in-stories, where each section can  be read as a stand-alone book. At the same time, when read together, they make one complete story,” she explains.

Deepa Rachel Pinto & Ram

There’s a lot more potential in  the genre, she enthuses. “Going forward, photo-fiction can be extended to create fictional travel segments. Amidst regular travel essays and reportage, photo- fiction mini-stories can bring a pleasant change,” she proposes.

“Photo-fiction stemmed from a personal wish,” offers Ram. “On one level, when I read reports on social causes, I wonder if the  messages would stay in mind longer if they come in the garb of fiction,” he says. “On a different note, in some books, I am unable  to visualise what the author  is describing, if it is about an unknown culture, people or place, as I don’t have a point of reference. A photograph would make my experience that much richer.”

Isreali reality

That’s were the idea of photo- fiction took shape, says Ram. “Every work of ours touches upon socially relevant issues — as reportage fictionalised with photographs.” Though, “it is vital that the charm of words is not replaced by photos, and enhanced by it,” cautions Deepa. “We ensure the balance of prose and photographs,” she says. Still, only a fraction of their travels make it into their books, says Deepa.


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