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Pico Iyer

Travel writer, essayist, novelist, and author of The Global Soul

TED Talk: “The art of stillness”
  • About Pico Iyer

    Pico Iyer is the author of ten books, including such long-running bestsellers on the travel shelves as Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk, and The Global Soul. A writer for Time since 1982 and a prolific journalist, he is known for his adventures just about everywhere—from North Korea to Easter Island, Ethiopia to Paraguay—while also writing novels about revolutionary Cuba and mystical Islam. His first book, Video Night in Kathmandu, is featured on many best travel book lists; his first novel, Cuba and the Night, was bought by Hollywood; and his first work of the new millennium, The Global Soul, has inspired websites, multimedia shows, and conferences around the world. His most recent book, The Man Within My Head, is a quirky hybrid story, not quite fiction, not quite nonfiction, retracing Iyer’s lifelong fascination with the late British novelist Graham Greene.

    Born in England to parents from India and educated at Eton, Oxford, and Harvard, Iyer writes frequently on globalism for Harper’s, on culture and politics for The New York Times, on literature for The New York Review of Books, and on many topics for magazines from National Geographic toTricycle: The Buddhist Review.

    An engaging and energetic speaker, Iyer has appeared twice as a Fellow at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, and has spoken at campuses around the United States, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and West Point. He speaks regularly at lecture series, too, from Seattle Arts & Lectures to the 92nd Street Y in New York. He has likewise charmed audiences at literary festivals from Bogotá to Shanghai and Edinburgh to Vancouver.

  • Speaking Topics

    Global Souls: The Honorary Citizens of the 21st Century

    So many of us now enjoy many different homes and selves, associated with our parents, our partners, the places we happen to be, the places we dream of. What fresh creative possibilities arise out of this state of fluidity—and what new problems? How has our sense of identity, community, and belonging changed with the age of movement? As someone of Indian ancestry, English birth and upbringing, American residence—and based in Japan for the past twenty years or so—Pico Iyer talks about the new generation that is creating a new kind of world, of human being and of exhilarating "mongrel" culture.

    The Dalai Lama: Changing the World, One Heart at a Time

    Drawing on almost 40 years of talks and travels with the XIVth Dalai Lama, bestselling biographer Pico Iyer offers an intimate and concrete look at the Tibetan leader's vision, his tough-minded realism, many things the world doesn’t know about him—and how his ideas and everyday practices may help all of us in the global order, even those of us (like Iyer) who are not Buddhist at all.

    Why We Travel

    One of the most prolific and seasoned travelers of our time—celebrated for his explorations of jet lag and LAX as well as of going just about everywhere, from North Korea to Easter Island, Bhutan to Ethiopia—Pico Iyer talks about the wonder of journeying at home and abroad, and the responsibilities each of them brings. How do we come back from a trip different from the person who set out? And how do we learn about our neighbors in the global village while also having fun and finding places in ourselves we never dreamed of?

    Stillness and Movement in the Digital Age

    After more than 20 years of staying in monasteries—and flying across the globe—Pico Iyer offers tips on how to keep one's sanity, and some sense of perspective, in our ever more frenetic age. How to make the most of our blinking machines—and yet find slowness, stillness, time to think? Learn more about what lies behind his highly popular New York Times columns on "The Joy of Less" and "The Joy of Quiet."

    How to Find Your Voice, Your Self

    Having worked in the fields of creative nonfiction, journalism, travel writing, and fiction for more than a quarter century, Pico Iyer examines how writing can serve as clearing in the wilderness, as free therapy and as daily walk, and what it can do that no multimedia gizmo can do better.

    The Great Planetary Museum

    From the Museo de Coca in La Paz, Bolivia, to Sir John Soane's House in London, from the art island of Naoshima in Japan to the Museum of Jurassic Technology in L.A., Pico Iyer weaves together a lifetime of visiting museums to offer suggestions of what they can do—and what they shouldn't try to do—amid all the competing temptations of our multimedia age. To what extent should a museum be forum, lecture-hall, and high-class restaurant, and how much a sanctuary from all of that?

  • Video

  • Praise for Pico Iyer

    The event was a great success, all thanks to Pico’s brilliance, great generosity, and kindness…[He] was animated, eloquent, and targeted the theme of the Humanities Center –”Home”– better than anybody who has come this year to lecture at Lehigh. His lecture was approachable and easy to follow, and at the same time had a profound intellectual depth. During the Q&A he addressed everybody with kindness and was able to answer with insight to every single question…Many members of the audience came to me afterwards to express their gratitude for having brought Pico to campus and told me how much they had enjoyed the lecture.

    Lehigh University

    Praise for The Man Within My Head

    [Iyer] is a wonderful wordsmith, and he provides engaging stories.


    It may be that Iyer’s beautifully contoured sentences embody all the landscapes he’s absorbed as he’s traveled the world, pen in hand. Iyer is always present in his celebrated books, but never to the extent he is here in this captivating memoir of an unsought, often unnerving affinity…Iyer’s deep-diving expedition also illuminates the mystery and spirit of the literary imperative: ‘A writer is a palmist, reading the lines of the world.’


    A contemplative, idiosyncratic book, a kind of side trip that diverges from the routes of Iyer’s usual writing…as “The Man Within My Head” demonstrates, there’s fellowship to be found in the community of eloquent strangers, an eternal literary companionship

    The New York Times Book Review
  • Books by Pico Iyer

  • Media About Pico Iyer

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  • 212 572-2013
  • Pico Iyer travels from Santa Barbara, CA, and Nara, Japan

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