Sunday, April 25, 2010

The good shepard

For someone searching for an identity, author Sadia Shepard seems confoundingly free of internal conflict...

“Writers should be read but neither seen nor heard,” said author Daphne du Maurier, who would be taken aback to see the self-promotion that has come to be essential to the book trade in this day and age, as seen at the recent Karachi Literature Festival . Of the writers presenting their work was rising star Sadia Shepard, presenting her debut The Girl From Foreign, a memoir of her search for her Indian-Jewish grandmother’s roots. Shepard — who grew up in a multicultural household outside Boston — was 13 when she discovered her grandmother’s heritage.

Fascinated by the knowledge that her maternal grandmother had been born Rachel Jacobs in a little-known Jewish community in Mumbai, before ultimately marrying a Muslim and converting to Islam, the grown-up Shepard travels to India to find out more about the life her grandmother left behind. The result of this journey is The Girl From Foreign. Shepard is, at this young age, already quite the Renaissance Woman. By profession she is a documentary filmmaker who has worked on projects for the Discovery Channel.

Her most successful work is the critically-acclaimed documentary The September Issue, a ferociously entertaining account of the production of Vogue magazine’s legendary bumper issue. She started her book in 2003 — breaking off in 2007 for the filming of The Septmber Issue — before publishing it in 2008. When you write a memoir so young, you’re setting yourself up for that thorny question of why anybody would be interested in reading about you in the first place. “I never thought anyone would read my book”, says Shepard, who did not let the disconcerting possibility discourage her from writing it.

Full report here International Herald Tribune

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