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In his newly published exploration of the world’s holiest sites, The Half Known Life, Pico Iyer questions ‘how to keep faith with even the hope of Paradise when nearly all the paradises I’d seen were, sometimes for that very reason, war zones?’
In her haunting journey through the world’s abandoned places, Islands of Abandonment, shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2022, Cal Flyn writes: ‘when a place has been altered beyond recognition and all hope seems lost, it might still hold the potential for life of another kind’.
Join Pico and Cal as they discuss their books of wonder, written whilst embarking on new travels and whilst making sense of old ones, mixing fact with feeling. They cover tourism, surprises, hope, holiness, the human and nonhuman in this prerecorded conversation, part of our Vital Discussions On Demand series.
Pico Iyer was born in Oxford, England in 1957. Since 1982 he has been a full-time writer, publishing 15 books, translated into 23 languages, on subjects ranging from the Dalai Lama to globalism, from the Cuban Revolution to Islamic mysticism. They include such long-running sellers as Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk, The Global Soul, The Open Road and The Art of Stillness. He writes up to 100 articles a year for Time, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, the Financial Times and other periodicals. His four talks for TED have received more than 10 million views.
Since 1992 Iyer has spent much of his time at a Benedictine hermitage in Big Sur, California, and most of the rest in suburban Japan.
Cal Flyn is an award-winning writer from the Highlands of Scotland. She writes long form journalism and literary nonfiction. Her latest book, Islands of Abandonment, has been a Sunday Times bestseller and was shortlisted for numerous awards including the Baillie Gifford Prize for nonfiction. It was the 2021 winner of The Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Young Writer of the Year Award, the UK and Ireland's most influential prize for young writers.