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On Gita

This blog post started out as a simple email reply to some questions about Gita Mehta aka Gita Patnaik, and went on far too long.  Only read what you wish.

Question 1. Have you read Gita's books? 
If you want to know about all of Gita’s writings, check out this link on according to WorldCat
It says she has "47 works in 296 publications in 15 languages and 5,485 library holdings."
WorldCat has similar listings for all authors (see Philip McEldowney Only 6 works

I’ve greatly enjoyed reading her fiction (Raj and River Sutra), but never have gotten beyond the first few pages, for some reason, of her main non-fiction – Karma Kola, Snakes and Ladders.  We (the UVa library) have those four books in our library, but not the coffee-table (non-academic) picture book Eternal Ganesh.

Question 2. Are “Sonny & Gita Mehta” listed in the credits of the “Vietnam” series running on PBS currently (late September 2017).  
Yes. They are one listing out of about 600 at the end of each program. I saved the TV program Monday night (18 September 2017) and went through the credits slowly.
        Jack, they are about halfway through the 3 minutes of credits at the end of the program – about at 2 minutes, after the main credits, the archives, the long list of music and songs, and under “Filmakers would like to thank the following” and about half way through that second long set of double column names, about half way through that, on the right.

Question 3. Why would they be listed in the credits? Gita's WorldCat listing does not include her films and perhaps one reason she’s listed in the credits – she evidently was a film director / producer / writer of films in the late 1960s, early 1970s, even worked for NBC some, and did some filming in 1970 in north Vietnam (I think).  If you look at the nice “Study Guide for River Sutra” at it mentions Gita worked as a journalist in the 1970s and thatMehta has written and filmed several television documentaries.” Her most popular documentary film is the hour-long “Dateline Bangladesh” (1971) on the Bangladesh war and the creation of the country.

 Question 4. Other links about Gita? I have some links to Gita reviews and interviews at
But more than half of the links (made around 2005) are dead, no long work – very disappointing. Still the ones that do work are interesting.

Question 5. Does the University of Virginia library have Knopf publications? specifcially Bill Clinton's Knopf published book? Our University of Virginia library has over 10,000 books published by Knopf, including 7 on Bill Clinton, 3 of which he has written, especially his 2004 autobiography “My Life” at

Hard to keep up with this couple, or Gita herself.

Question 6. Anything further about Gita or her family? Her brother, Naveen Patnaik, is Chief Minister of the state of Orissa, and is always in the news. His and Gita’s father, Biju Patnaik, was Chief Minister of Orissa twice, and he was active in national and Orissa state politics from the 1940s until his death in the 1990s, elected to the Lok Sabha (our congress), etc. Naveen’s older brother is Prem Patnaik, who’s daughter, Gayatri Patnaik (’86) went to Woodstock School and was on a panel at the recent Woodstock Reunion (2017) in Boston.

Gayatri Patnaik and Philip, after her panel at the Woodstock Reunion Boston 2017 August 5
Question 7. What more might you know about Gayatri? On p. 9 of the Woodstock Reunion 2017 program there is a photo of Gayatri and a description -
Gayatri Patnaik ’86 is a Woodstock graduate, and her aunt, Gita Mehta (then Gita Patnaik), also attended Woodstock School for some years. Gayatri has been in the publishing industry for over 20 years and is currently editorial director of Beacon Press, a distinguished book publisher that was founded in 1854 and has progressive social justice ethos. Gayatri publishes books in US history and race/ethnicity/immigration, and she began Beacon’s LGBTQ series, “Queer Action/Queer ideas.” Her master’s is in cultural anthropology from The New School of Social Research. She lives with her partner, Chris, and their irrepressible five-year-old son, Matthew, in Arlington, MA.”

Further questions? 


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