'Photo' has been hailed as a path-breaking work in contemporary Odia fiction since its first publication in a limited, not-for-sale edition in 1990. It is a coming-of-age novel in which, for the first time, there is an uninhibited but studied use of street slang and swearwords to bring a milieu and an atmosphere alive. Two strangers meet on a train and during the ride the older man toys and tangles with the younger, a college student suffering from the usual sexual deprivation typical of the 1960s Odia middle-class society, with the tantalising prospect of hooking him up with his apparently estranged wife. The poor college boy falls for it. Is the woman a mirage? Does she really exist? How far is the boy willing to go? The story unfolds against a taut canvas of lust, longing, temptation and deception.
Kamalakanta Mohapatra is an acclaimed author and translator.