March 10th, 2009 will be a key date: it is the 50th anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day, which marks the anniversary of the Dalai Lama's flight from Lhasa in 1959. On this day, the Dalai Lama will also deliver his annual state-of-the-nation address Pico Iyer enjoyed unprecedented access to the Dalai Lama over thirty yearsThe Open Road appeared on several bestseller lists across America
Pico Iyer is the author of six works of nonfiction and two novels. He has covered the Tibetan question for Time, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and many other publications for more than twenty years. He has been traveling in and around Tibetan communities and the Himalayas for more than thirty years.
This is a brilliant pairing of writer and subject. Iyer has known the Dalai Lama, spiritual and political leader of Tibet, for more than 30 years, thanks to a long-ago connection between the writer's father, an Oxford don born in India, and a young Dalai Lama. And so the acute global observer Iyer, a travel writer, essayist and novelist, has long followed the fortunes of the astute globalist Tibetan Buddhist, who travels the world but can never go home to his Chinese-occupied country. This is not a biography but an extended journalistic analysis of someone deep enough for several lifetimes, as Tibetan Buddhists believe. Iyer organizes his observations by smart descriptions of aspects of the Dalai Lama's work and character: icon, monk, philosopher, politician. This allows him to plumb different sides of His Holiness, whom he demythologizes even as he expresses a clear-eyed respect for the leader's achievements. Iyer reminds readers of paradoxes: the Dalai Lama is highly empirical, yet holds beliefs such as reincarnation that defy observation. He is a public figure who is diligent about elaborate and private religious practices. Like its subject, the aim of this book is ultimately simple: behold the man. (Apr. 3) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
'Pico Iyer's exceptionally intimate portrait of the Dalai Lama takes us beyond global celebrity image and into a true private audience with a leader of tremendous complexity.' Elizabeth Gilbert, author of bestseller Eat, Pray, Love 'Pico Iyer delights, weaving with scintillating intelligence and evident fondness a spell-binding tale of the 14th Dalai Lama's uncanny power on the world stage ... This thoughtful, thought-provoking book will open readers' eyes. I couldn't put it down.' Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence 'The Open Road jumps cleverly between the Dalai Lama, the people around him and the community of exiled Tibetans based in Dharamsala.' The Sunday Times 'A thoughtful and beautifully written portrait ...[Pico Iyer does an] exemplary job of explaining the complex spiritual and political history that underpins the extraordinary institution that is the Dalai Lama, and illuminating the extraordinary man who presently occupies it.' Daily Telegraph
Iyer is one of the most praised travel writers working and a remarkably effective nonfiction writer and literary journalist, author of, among other titles, Video Night in Kathmandu and The Lady and the Monk. His latest is an ambitious attempt to offer an innovative, multifaceted portrait of the Dalai Lama. Neither a work of history nor a biography, a work of Buddhist theology, or an apologia for Tibetan politics, Iyer's book is organized by the various faces the Dalai Lama seems to wear (e.g., "The Conundrum," "The Mystery," "The Monk," "The Politician"). Most readers, however, would have benefited from a clear, nonworshipful, more conventionally structured work: Iyer's result feels chaotic, since his structure prevents him from showing development and change of the world or the Dalai Lama over time. Despite Iyer's best intentions, it leaves the impression of a scattering of postcards about Iyer's friendship with this important leader rather than a searching study of the leader himself. Nevertheless, the popularity of the Dalai Lama recommends this for most collections, especially where Iyer's books have a following. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/07.] Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.