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Pico Iyer's intoxicating new novel is at once a stylish intellectual mystery and a pulse-quickening love story--the love in question being at once sacred and profane. John Macmillan, a classically reticent Englishman who has moved to California to study the poems of the Sufi mystic Rumi, unexpectedly becomes involved in two equally absorbing quests. The first is for a mysterious Rumi manuscript that may have been smuggled out of Iran; the second for the elusive Camilla Jensen, who continually offers herself to him only to repeatedly slip from his grasp. Are these quests somehow related? And can Macmillan give himself over to them without losing his career and identity? Moving deftly from California academia to the mosques of Iran, filled with insights into the minds of Islam and the modern West,Abandonis a magic carpet-ride of a book.
A follow up to Pico Iyer's essay "The Joy of Quiet," The Art of Stillness considers the unexpected adventure of staying put and reveals a counterintuitive truth: The more ways we have to connect, the more we seem desperate to unplug.Why would a man who seems able to go everywhere and do anything--like the international heartthrob and Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer Leonard Cohen--choose to spend years sitting still and going nowhere? What can Nowhere offer that no Anywhere can match? And why might a lifelong traveler like Pico Iyer, who has journeyed from Easter Island to Ethiopia, Cuba to Kathmandu, think that sitting quietly in a room and getting to know the seasons and landscapes of Nowhere might be the ultimate adventure? In The Art of Stillness, Iyer draws on the lives of well-known wanderer-monks like Cohen--as well as from his own experiences as a travel writer who chooses to spend most of his time in rural Japan--to explore why advances in technology are making us more likely to retreat. Iyer reflects that this is perhaps the reason why many people--even those with no religious commitment--seem to be turning to yoga, or meditation, or tai chi. These aren't New Age fads so much as ways to rediscover the wisdom of an earlier age. There is even a growing trend toward observing an "Internet sabbath" every week, turning off online connections from Friday night to Monday morning and reviving those ancient customs known as family meals and conversation. In this age of constant movement and connectedness, perhaps staying in one place is a more exciting prospect, and a greater necessity than ever before. The Art of Stillness paints a picture of why so many have found richness in stillness and what--from Marcel Proust to Blaise Pascal to Phillipe Starck--they've gained there.
Part of the TED series: The Art of StillnessIn this age of constant movement and connectedness, when so many of us are all over the place, perhaps staying in one place - and locating everything we need for peace and happiness there - is a more exciting prospect, and a greater necessity than ever before. Through his extensive interviews with creative geniuses of our day, as well as historical records and his own life experience, acclaimed author Pico Iyer paints a picture of why so many have found such richness in stillness and how - from Marcel Proust to Blaise Pascal to Phillipe Starck - they've gathered such rare and exhilarating fruits there. He explores the counter-intuitive truth: the more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug. In both The Art of Stillness and his captivating TEDTALK Where is Home?, Iyer reflects that this is perhaps the reason why more and more people - even those with no religious commitment - seem to be turning to yoga, or meditation, or tai chi. These aren't New Age fads so much as ways to connect with what could be called the wisdom of an earlier age. There is even a growing trend toward observing an "Internet sabbath" every week, turning off online connections from Friday night to Monday morning, so as to try to revive those ancient customs known as family meals and conversation.
The articles in this collection tell about places from Patagonia to Ivory Coast, describing different modes of transport across America and other places such as the Congo forests.
The renowned nonfiction annual makes its Penguin debut For more than a decade, Philip Zaleski has collected into a single volume the best spiritual essays and poetry of the year. The Best Spiritual Writing 2010, featuring essays by John Updike and Diane Ackerman, poems from Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney and Pulitzer Prize-winner Louise Glück, and personal reflections by Richard Rodriguez and Leon Wieseltier, is sure to expand on the series' already wide recognition and reach the growing audience of readers searching for unsurpassed spiritual writing. Contributors include: Mary Jo Bang, Jane Hirshfield, Melissa Range, Rick Bass, Paula Huston, Pattiann Rogers, David Berlinski, Pico Iyer, Amanda Shaw, Joseph Bottum, Charles Johnson, Master Sheng Yen, Nicholas Carr, Jon D. Levenson, Floyd Skloot, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Philip Levine, Meir Soloveichik, Billy Collins, Wilfred M. McClay, Richard Wilbur, Chrisi Cox, Richard John Neuhaus, Seamus Heaney, Robert Pinsky
Having captivated readers with such gems of travel writing as Video Night in Kathmandu, Pico Iyer now presents a novel whose central character is another place: the melancholy, ebullient, and dazzlingly inconsistent island that is Castro's Cuba. "On almost every page you can smell the dust, the cheap perfume and the rum of Havana today, or better still, tonight."--Los Angeles Times.From the Trade Paperback edition.
A Vintage Shorts Travel Selection Welcome to China in 1985, to a nation that has just begun to swing open for the West, and specifically for a young Time magazine journalist named Pico Iyer. From the beloved set of travel essays Video Night in Kathmandu, this is his dispatch. From Beijing to Chengdu to Guangzhou, Iyer crisscrosses the country, making friends, gathering impressions, and always getting to the train station early (very early). Along the way he encounters a China eager to take in Western goods, but not always Western values--and a Great Wall, established to keep the world out, that's now being used to draw it in. Neither Easterner nor Westerner knows where to turn. With frank curiosity and prophetic clarity, Iyer's travel essays have become the gold standard for the genre. Here he gives us a time capsule of an ambiguous and fast-changing China that remains strikingly familiar even today. An eBook short.
The author of Video Night in Kathmandu ups the ante on himself in this sublimely evocative and acerbically funny tour through the world's loneliest and most eccentric places. From Iceland to Bhutan to Argentina, Iyer remains both uncannily observant and hilarious.
With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India. The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers--a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village--will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future. As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state.
A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry's stunning internationally acclaimed bestseller, is set in mid-1970s India. It tells the story of four unlikely people whose lives come together during a time of political turmoil soon after the government declares a "State of Internal Emergency." Through days of bleakness and hope, their circumstances - and their fates - become inextricably linked in ways no one could have foreseen. Mistry's prose is alive with enduring images and a cast of unforgettable characters. Written with compassion, humour, and insight, A Fine Balance is a vivid, richly textured, and powerful novel written by one of the most gifted writers of our time.From the Hardcover edition.
An NYRB Calssics OriginalA humble clerk and his loving wife scrape out a quiet existence on the margins of Tokyo. Resigned, following years of exile and misfortune, to the bitter consequences of having married without their families' consent, and unable to have children of their own, Sōsuke and Oyone find the delicate equilibrium of their household upset by a new obligation to meet the educational expenses of Sōsuke's brash younger brother. While an unlikely new friendship appears to offer a way out of this bind, it also soon threatens to dredge up a past that could once again force them to flee the capital. Desperate and torn, Sōsuke finally resolves to travel to a remote Zen mountain monastery to see if perhaps there, through meditation, he can find a way out of his predicament. This moving and deceptively simple story, a melancholy tale shot through with glimmers of joy, beauty, and gentle wit, is an understated masterpiece by one of Japan's greatest writers. At the end of his life, Natsume Sōseki declared The Gate, originally published in 1910, to be his favorite among all his novels. This new translation captures the oblique grace of the original while correcting numerous errors and omissions that marred the first English version.
Pico Iyer has for many years described with keen perception and exacting wit the shifting textures of faraway lands anchored on a spinning globe that mixes and matches East and West. Now he casts a philosophical eye upon this curious state of floatingness.In the transnational village that our world has become, travel and technology fuel each other and us. As Iyer points out, "everywhere is so made up of everywhere else," and our very souls have been put into circulation. Yet even global beings need a home.Using his own multicultural upbringing (Indian, American, British) as a point of departure, Iyer sets out on a quest, both physical and psychological, to find what remains constant in a world gone mobile. He begins in Los Angeles International Airport, where town life -- shops, services, sociability -- is available without a town, and in Hong Kong, where people actually live in self-contained hotels. He moves on to Toronto, which has been given new life and a new literature by its immigrant population, and to Atlanta, where the Olympic Village inadvertently commemorates the corporate universalism that is the Olympics' secret face. And, finally, he returns to England, where the effects of empire-as-global-village are still being sorted out, and to Japan, where in the midst of alien surfaces, Iyer unexpectedly finds a home."As a guide to far-flung places, Pico Iyer can hardly be surpassed," The New Yorker has written. In The Global Soul, he extends the meaning of far-flung to places within and all around us.From the Hardcover edition.
"Earns its place on the very short shelf of books on Japan that are of permanent value."--Times Literary Supplement. "Richie is a stupendous travel writer; the book shines with bright witticisms, deft characterizations of fisherfolk, merchants, monks and wistful adolescents, and keen comparisons of Japanes and Western culture." --San Francisco Chronicle"A learned, beautifully paced elegy."--London Review of BooksSheltered between Japan's major islands lies the Inland Sea, a place modernity passed by. In this classic travel memoir, Donald Richie embarks on a quest to find Japan's timeless heart among its mysterious waters and forgotten islands. This edition features an introduction by Pico Iyer, photographs from the award-winning PBS documentary, and a new afterword. First published in 1971, The Inland Sea is a lucid, tender voyage of discovery and self-revelation. Donald Richie is the foremost authority on Japanese culture and cinema with 40+ books in print.
When Pico Iyer decided to go to Kyoto and live in a monastery, he did so to learn about Zen Buddhism from the inside, to get to know Kyoto, one of the loveliest old cities in the world, and to find out something about Japanese culture today -- not the world of businessmen and production lines, but the traditional world of changing seasons and the silence of temples, of the images woven through literature, of the lunar Japan that still lives on behind the rising sun of geopolitical power.All this he did. And then he met Sachiko.Vivacious, attractive, thoroughly educated, speaking English enthusiastically if eccentrically, the wife of a Japanese "salaryman" who seldom left the office before 10 P.M., Sachiko was as conversant with tea ceremony and classical Japanese literature as with rock music, Goethe, and Vivaldi. With the lightness of touch that made Video Night in Kathmandu so captivating, Pico Iyer fashions from their relationship a marvelously ironic yet heartfelt book that is at once a portrait of cross-cultural infatuation -- and misunderstanding -- and a delightfully fresh way of seeing both the old Japan and the very new.From the Trade Paperback edition.
We all carry people inside our heads--actors, leaders, writers, people out of history or fiction, met or unmet, who sometimes seem closer to us than people we know. In The Man Within My Head, Pico Iyer sets out to unravel the mysterious closeness he has always felt with the English writer Graham Greene; he examines Greene's obsessions, his elusiveness, his penchant for mystery. Iyer follows Greene's trail from his first novel, The Man Within, to such later classics as The Quiet American and begins to unpack all he has in common with Greene: an English public school education, a lifelong restlessness and refusal to make a home anywhere, a fascination with the complications of faith. The deeper Iyer plunges into their haunted kinship, the more he begins to wonder whether the man within his head is not Greene but his own father, or perhaps some more shadowy aspect of himself. Drawing upon experiences across the globe, from Cuba to Bhutan, and moving, as Greene would, from Sri Lanka in war to intimate moments of introspection; trying to make sense of his own past, commuting between the cloisters of a fifteenth-century boarding school and California in the 1960s, one of our most resourceful explorers of crossing cultures gives us his most personal and revelatory book.
Iyer, who has previously written about Buddhism and globalism, now offers this account of the travels of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and his effort to inform the world about current conditions in Tibet under Chinese rule. Equal time is spent on observing the day-to-day routines of this icon, both in public and in private, and providing a broader explanation of the man's philosophies and goals. Anyone who has expressed an interest in knowing more about the Dalai Lama will enjoy this revealing study. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)
A major new biography of Graham Greene with extensive new material; exclusive, never-before-seen photographs of Greene on his travels; and full family cooperationAn essential read for fans of literary biography, this book finally and fully illuminates a pivotal episode in Graham Greene's life and career in the kind of detail that will sate any fans of his work, but which also provides a fascinating glimpse into a writer's life. In 1965, Greene joined journalist Bernard Diederich in the Dominican Republic to embark on a tour of its border with Haiti, then ruled by "Papa Doc" Duvalier. They were accompanied by activist priest Jean-Claude Bajeux. Diederich had known Greene since the mid-1950s and had lived in Haiti for 14 years. He was a seasoned correspondent for the British and North American press and had reported many stories from the region, including Castro's triumph in Cuba and the death of the Dominican dictator, Trujillo. In 1963, he had been thrown out of Haiti and when Greene arrived was working from the Dominican Republic. The famous novelist was 61 and depressed, having struggled to finish A Burnt-Out Case, and was being plagued by religious doubt; Bajeux, meanwhile, had been informed that his family had been "disappeared" by Duvalier's henchmen. As this trio traveled along the border they met a number of rebels and other characters later fictionalized in Greene's most politically charged novel, The Comedians, published the following year. This book tells the story of how a series of extraordinary and often hair-raising journeys gave one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century new inspiration in his writing.
In 1973, Peter Matthiessen and field biologist George Schaller traveled high into the remote mountains of Nepal to study the Himalayan blue sheep and possibly glimpse the rare and beautiful snow leopard. Matthiessen, a student of Zen Buddhism, was also on a spiritual quest to find the Lama of Shey at the ancient shrine on Crystal Mountain. As the climb proceeds, Matthiessen charts his inner path as well as his outer one, with a deepening Buddhist understanding of reality, suffering, impermanence, and beauty. This Penguin Classics edition features an introduction by acclaimed travel writer and novelist Pico Iyer.<P><P> Winner of the National Book Award
One of the best travel writers now at work in the English language brings back the sights and sounds from a dozen different frontiers. A cryptic encounter in the perfumed darkness of Bali; a tour of a Bolivian prison, conducted by an enterprising inmate; a nightmarish taxi ride across southern Yemen, where the men with guns may be customs inspectors or revolutionaries- these are just three of the stops on Pico Iyer's latest itinerary. But the true subject of Sun After Dark is the dislocations of the mind in transit. And so Iyer takes us along to meditate with Leonard Cohen and talk geopolitics with the Dalai Lama. He navigates the Magritte-like landscape of jet lag, "a place that no human had ever been until forty or so years ago." And on every page of this poetic and provocative book, he compels us to redraw our map of the world.
Two comic gems from the father of modern Indian fiction- available in one volume for the first time These two novels show R. K. Narayan at his best, offering enchanting tales of human absurdity that are also skillfully woven parables infused with Hindu mysticism. A Tiger for Malgudi is told from the point of view of the tiger Raja, now old and toothless, who looks back on his life in the circus and in films, and on his dramatic bid to escape the brutish human world in a quest for freedom. The Man-Eater of Malgudi is the story of Nataraj, a mild-mannered printer who stands up to Vasu, a pugnacious taxidermist, when Vasu begins to covet the beloved temple elephant for his collection.
In Tropical Classical the author of Video Nights in Katmandu and The Lady and the Monk visits a holy city in Ethiopia, where hooded worshippers practice a Christianity that has remained unchanged since the Middle Ages. He follows the bewilderingly complex route of Bombay's dabbawallahs, who each day ferry 100,000 different lunches to 100,000 different workers.Iyer chats with the Dalai Lama and assesses the books of Salman Rushdie and Cormac McCarthy. And he brings his perceptive eye and unflappable wit to bear on the postmodern vogues for literary puffery, sexual gamesmanship, and frequent-flier miles. Glittering with aphorisms, overflowing with insight, and often hilarious, Tropical Classical represents some of Iyer's finest work.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Mohawk hair-cuts in Bali, yuppies in Hong Kong and Rambo rip-offs in the movie houses of Bombay are just a few of the jarring images that Iyer brings back from the Far East.
When Pico Iyer began his travels, he wanted to know how Rambo conquered Asia. Why did Dire Straits blast out over Hiroshima, Bruce Spingsteen over Bali and Madonna over all? If he was eager to learn where East meets West, how pop culture and imperialism penetrated through the world's most ancient civilisations, then the truths he began to uncover were more startling, more subtle, more complex then he ever anticipated. Who was hustling whom? When did this pursuit of illusions and vested interests, with it's curious mix of innocence and calculation, turn from confrontation into the mating dance? Iyer travelled to Bali where despite tourism he realised that Paradise might not be lost after all. He checked on how Tibet was faring as the word's last secret to be revealed to full view. In Nepal he saw how the Dharma path met Freak Street, and witnessed in China how doors locked to trade were thrown open with breathless courtesy. This is a world where the movie star has become a god and Rajiv Ghandi a celluloid hero and to travel with Iyer is to experience the seductions and ironies of today's Asian cultures - and our own.