The Half Known Life, Pico Iyer ( hardback Jan 2023)
The Half Known Life : Finding Paradise in a Divided World
STANFORDS BOOK OF THE MONTH - JANUARY 2023'Nothing less than a guided tour of the human soul' Elizabeth Gilbert
One of our most perceptive travel writers embarks on an exploration of the world's holiest places and where we might find paradise on Earth. It's so easy, I thought, to place Paradise in the past or the future - anywhere but here. After half a century of travel, from Ethiopia to Tibet, from Belfast to Jerusalem, Pico Iyer asks himself what kind of paradise can ever be found in a world of unceasing conflict.
In a spectacular journey, both inward and outward, Iyer roams from crowded mosques in Iran to a film studio in North Korea, from a holy mountain in Japan to the sometimes spooky emptiness of the Australian outback. At every stop, he makes connections with unexpected strangers - mystics and taxi drivers and fellow travellers - and draws on his own memories, of time spent in a Benedictine monastery high above the Pacific, of regular travels with the Dalai Lama, of hearing his late mother speak of sunlit moments in pre-Partition India. By the end, he has upended many of our expectations and dared to suggest that we can find paradise right in the heart of our angry, confused and divided world.