Ten Evenings

Pico Iyer

“After years of travel, I’d begun to wonder what kind of paradise can ever be found in a world of unceasing conflict—and whether the very search for it might not simply aggravate our differences.”

Pico Iyer, The Half Known Life

From “one of the most soulful and perceptive writers of our time” (Brain Pickings), Pico Iyer’s The Half Known Life is a journey through competing ideas of paradise to see how we can live more peacefully in an ever more divided and distracted world.

Paradise: that elusive place where the anxieties, struggles, and burdens of life fall away. Most of us dream of it, but each of us has very different ideas about where it is to be found. For some it can be enjoyed only after death; for others, it’s in our midst—or just across the ocean—if only we can find eyes to see it.

Traveling from Iran to North Korea, from the Dalai Lama’s Himalayas to the ghostly temples of Japan, Pico Iyer brings together a lifetime of explorations to upend our ideas of utopia and ask how we might find peace in the midst of difficulty and suffering. Does religion lead us back to Eden or only into constant contention? Why do so many seeming paradises turn into warzones? And does paradise exist only in the afterworld – or can it be found in the here and now?

For almost fifty years Iyer has been roaming the world, mixing a global soul’s delight in observing cultures with a pilgrim’s readiness to be transformed. In this culminating work, he brings together the outer world and the inner to offer us a surprising, original, often beautiful exploration of how we might come upon paradise in the midst of our very real lives.

Pico Iyer was born in Oxford, England to parents from India. He was educated at Eton, Oxford, and Harvard, and earned master’s degrees from Oxford and Harvard as well as an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters. In 2019, he was a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton. Iyer is the author of fifteen books, translated into twenty-three languages, and has been a constant contributor for more than thirty years to Time, The New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and more than 250 other periodicals worldwide. His four recent talks for TED have received more than eleven million views. Since 1992, he has been based in Western Japan with his wife, while spending part of each year in a Benedictine hermitage in California.

“Nothing less than a guided tour of the human soul…A masterpiece.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

Books

Copies of The Half Known Life are available to purchase from White Whale Bookstore. After the lecture, the author will sign books in the Music Hall Foyer.

WHEN

September 30, 2024 at 7:30 p.m. ET

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WHERE

Carnegie Music Hall (Oakland)

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Upcoming Lectures

Anna Monardo

MAY 23

Liann Tsoukas and Rob Ruck

JUN 20

Colm Toibin

SEP 16

Pico Iyer

SEP 30