Video Night in Kathmandu: And Other Reports from the Not-So-Far East by Pico Iyer Mohawk haircuts in Bali. Yuppies in Hong Kong. In Bombay, not one but five Rambo rip-offs, complete with music and dancing. And in the People's Republic of China, a restaurant that serves dishes called "A Legitimate Beef" and "Ike and Tuna Turner." These are some of the images -- comic, poignant, unsettling -- that Iyer brings back from the Far East.
The Time writer approaches his subject with a camera-sharp eye and a willingness to go beyond the obvious conclusions about the hybrid cultures of the East and West.
"Quick-witted and perceptive -- something more than a deft and entertaining traveler's tale." (The New Yorker)Read More...Hide Pages: 428
Sun After Dark:Flights into the Foreign by Pico Iyer Pico Iyer,one of the most compelling and profoundly provocative travel writers,invites us to accompany him on an array of exotic explorations, from L.A. and Yemen to Haiti and Ethiopia, from a Bolivian prison to a hidden monastery in Tibet. He goes to Cambodia, where the main tourist attraction is a collection of skulls from the Khmer Rouge killing fields, and travels through southern Arabia in the weeks before September 11, 2001. He practices meditation with Leonard Cohen and discusses geopolitics with the Dalai Lama, travels to Easter Island and through the imaginative terrains of W. G. Sebald and Kazuo Ishiguro, weaving physical and psychological challenges together into a seamless narrative.
Throughout his travels, the familiar thrill of adventure is haunted by the unsettling questions that arise for Iyer everywhere he goes: How do we reconcile suffering with the sunlight often found around it? How does the foreign instruct the traveler, precisely by discomfiting him? And how does travel take us more deeply into reality, both within us and without? Intensely affecting, Iyer?s explorations are a road map of thinking in new ways about our changing world.Read More...Hide Pages: 223
Cuba and the Night: A Novel by Pico Iyer 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.Read More...Hide Pages: 256
Abandon by Pico Iyer John Macmillan is an Englishman in California studying Sufism, and in particular Rumi, the thirteenth-century Islamic mystic and at present the best-selling poet in America. Traveling to Damascus, he hears rumors of a secret, heretical manuscript that might have escaped from Iran during the chaos of its Revolution, and, taking a message back to California, ends up encountering Camilla Jensen, an open if somewhat wayward Californian, who seems in some way connected to the world of fugitive texts.
Following the trail of mystical poems through Spain and India to Iran, and trying to unravel the mystery that lies behind Camilla, John finds himself descending ever deeper into a world of passion and bewilderment. Then, suddenly, a manuscript appears, and Camilla disappears, leaving him closer to an understanding of some things, yet further from a real understanding of what is most important to him.Read More...Hide Pages: 356
Addy and Prue Fairweather live with Nell, their widowed mother, in a flat above her shop on the Scotland Road. The sisters, however, are very different. Addy is dark-haired, plain and always in trouble whereas Prue is flaxen-haired, blue-eyed and as angelic as her looks imply. To make matters worse, Nell makes no secret of her preference for the younger girl, increasing Addy's jealousy and resentment. On the other side of the coin, Giles Frobisher and his twin sister, Gillian, live in a crumbling mansion near the sea in Devon. The family have lost most of their money in the Depression, so Giles leaves university and joins the Fleet Air Arm. He meets the Fairweather girls briefly on a visit to Liverpool but they lose touch. When they meet again Addy and Prue are no longer children and Giles realises he is falling in love...
Bee Season by Myla Goldberg
Eliza Naumann, a seemingly unremarkable nine-year-old, expects never to fit into her gifted family: her autodidact father, Saul, absorbed in his study of Jewish mysticism; her brother, Aaron, the vessel of his father's spiritual ambitions; and her brilliant but distant lawyer-mom, Miriam. But when Eliza sweeps her school and district spelling bees in quick succession, Saul takes it as a sign that she is destined for greatness. In this altered reality, Saul inducts her into his hallowed study and lavishes upon her the attention previously reserved for Aaron, who in his displacement embarks upon a lone quest for spiritual fulfillment. When Miriam's secret life triggers a familial explosion, it is Eliza who must order the chaos.
Myla Goldberg's keen eye for detail brings Eliza's journey to three-dimensional life. As she rises from classroom obscurity to the blinding lights and outsized expectations of the National Bee, Eliza's small pains and large joys are finely wrought and deeply felt.
Not merely a coming-of-age story, Goldberg's first novel delicately examines the unraveling fabric of one family. The outcome of this tale is as startling and unconventional as her prose, which wields its metaphors sharply and rings with maturity. The work of a lyrical and gifted storyteller, Bee Season marks the arrival of an extraordinarily talented new writer.
River of Smoke
River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh
In September 1838 a storm blows up on the Indian Ocean and the Ibis, a ship carrying a consignment of convicts and indentured labourers from Calcutta to Mauritius, is caught up in the whirlwind. When the seas settle, five men have disappeared-two lascars, two convicts and one of the passengers. Did the same storm upend the fortunes of those aboard the Anahita, an opium carrier heading towards Canton. And what fate befell those aboard the Redruth, a sturdy two-masted brig heading East out of Cornwall. Was it the storm that altered their course or were the destinies of these passengers at the mercy of even more powerful forces.
On the grand scale of an historical epic, River of Smoke follows its storm-tossed characters to the crowded harbours of China. There, despite efforts of the emperor to stop them, ships from Europe and India exchange their cargoes of opium for boxes of tea, silk, porcelain and silver. Among them are Bahram Modi, a wealthy Parsi opium merchant out of Bombay, his estranged half-Chinese son Ah Fatt, the orphaned amateur botanist Paulette and a motley collection of others in pursuit of romance, riches and a legendary rare flower. All struggle to cope with their losses-and, for some, unimaginable freedoms-in the alleys and crowded waterways of nineteenth-century Canton.
As transporting and mesmerizing as an opiate induced dream, River of Smoke, book two in Amitav Ghosh's Ibis trilogy, will soon be heralded as a masterpiece of twenty-first century literature.