A Fantastic State of Ruin


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SpecificationsSKU: 90691Size: 9″ x 11.25″ Landscape Pages: 176pp Binding: Hardbound Publication Date: Fall 2018 ISBN: 978-1-940743-36-3 Rights World: Available
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A Fantastic State of Ruin tells the story of the painted towns of Shekhawati in rural Rajasthan, India. These tiny settlements owe their origins to the opium and silk caravans that once crossed the Thar Desert. Prosperous traders financed the construction of ornate houses in the towns and commissioned visiting artists to decorate them with exquisite murals depicting local life and society. For centuries, the painted buildings served the towns as trading houses, pleasure palaces, temples, caravansaries, and private homes. Following independence, the descendants of the merchant families left Shekhawati for India’s burgeoning cities, abandoning their opulent structures.  Some were left in the charge of caretakers; squatters took up residence in many; most simply remain vacant. The buildings have slowly deteriorated over time, ravaged by climate and neglect, and now lie scattered among the desert settlements as an elegiac collection of beautiful living ruins—a crumbling open-air gallery set amid the ordinary affairs of small town life. This book portrays the fascinating ruinous beauty of the painted towns, and, along the way, provides an intimate look at life and landscape on the arid fringes of Rajasthan. This world, too, is fading, and so the book’s photographs, in the end, are a visual study of both place and society at the edge of time.

David Zurick received his PhD in Geography from the University of Hawaii and the East-West Center. He writes and photographs extensively about Asia and the Pacific, with a special focus on the contemporary cultural landscape.

Rajasthan Tourism Department Honors Author David Zurick at the Shekhawati Festival near the town of Jhunjhunu

Fantastic State of Ruin is reviewed in Kyoto Journal

Divaid Zurick presenting A Fantastic State of Ruin to NexUs Culture Nepal

Asian Review of Books features A Fantastic State of Ruin


11/01/2018 London Book Lecture for A Fantastic State of Ruin with David Zurick

F-Stop Magazine’s Review of A Fantastic State of Ruin

October 31st Paris Book Lecture and Signing for A Fantastic State of Ruin

A Fantastic State of Ruin Author, David Zurick, Hosts Book Signing and Lecture Events





9" x 11.25" Landscape





Publication date

Fall 2018



Rights world