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The Global Soul


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About the Author

Pico Iyer is the author of five previous books, including Video Night in Kathmandu and The Lady and the Monk. He lives in suburban Japan.


A swirl of locations, time zones and cultures marks Iyer's (Video Night in Katmandu) breathless look at today's world, where borders are passed through as quickly as an airport gift shop. To the author, the concept of the global soul is flexible. It could mean someone who, like the international consultant who carries five different plane tickets at all times, calls the road home, or it could represent the citizen who combines a multicultural past with an equally colorful present. "For a Global Soul like me--for anyone born in several cultures--the challenge in the modern world is to find a city that speaks to as many of our homes as possible," Iyer writes. (An ethnic Indian, Iyer grew up in England and the U.S.; today he splits his time between California and Japan.) He blends an exploration of people like himself with the places they inhabit--the netherworld that is an airport, cities separated from their pasts like Hong Kong, the ethnic m‚lange of Toronto and the improbable urbanity of Olympic-host Atlanta. Many of these locales are at once Everyplace and No Place, and Iyer deftly captures the rootlessness of those who dwell there. As he does in his magazine pieces, Iyer brings a fine spiritual current to his writing, and his descriptive talents are unsurpassed, even if he lets his mouth hang open a little too wide marveling at the postmodernism of it all. (Feb.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Iyer, who appropriately describes himself as "a global village on two legs," takes readers on a fascinating series of journeys aimed at discovering whether one's concept of "home" is still valid in an increasingly global, borderless world. In his previous work (e.g., Video Night in Kathmandu), Iyer explored similar themes; here, traveling to Los Angeles Airport, Hong Kong, Toronto, Atlanta, England, and Japan, he addresses everything from how Libya's Gaddafi defines the concept of the "global village" to the meaning of "Canadian exceptionalism." To be sure, this is not ordinary travel reportage: Iyer delves pointedly into cultural and social criticism and political and philosophical analyses with a refreshing sense of curiosity and very little cultural stereotyping. Throughout, he relies not only on his extensive travel experiences but also on his background. Born to Indian parents in England, he was raised in California and now spends much of his time in Japan. Naturally, all that variety may account for his heightened appreciation of the nuances in human cultural interaction. Highly recommended for all collections.--Ali Houissa, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"Powerful and essential reading for anyone trying to understand the modern world."-Minneapolis Star Tribune

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