Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Non-Fiction

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Non-Fiction

Article excerpt

Title: The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping Malls, and the Search for Home

Author: Pico Iyer

Data: Alfred A. Knopf, 303 pages, $25

Review by Heather Hewett

As someone who has lived in three countries -- England, the United States and Japan -- and has traveled in countless others, Pico Iyer typifies what he calls the "Global Soul."

The Global Soul is someone who has grown up in many different cultures, or finds him or herself constantly traveling between countries for work. More and more people find themselves in this situation.

In these essays, Iyer deftly mixes socio-cultural observations of this brave new world with more spiritual and philosophical reflections. He roots himself in a philosophical tradition stretching back to Ralph Waldo Emerson, the originator of the idea of the global soul. Iyer takes this 19th century concept and uses it as a lens for looking at today's world.

Iyer's essays explore specific cities (Hong Kong, for instance), and the "no place" of the global world, the modem airport.

Iyer is best when he weaves narratives that fully draw particular places.

His essay on Toronto, for example, contains so many strange and memorable details that he convincingly captures this multicultural city. His tour of the world's airports, on the other hand, leaves the reader a bit breathless and jet-lagged.

Iyer's essays transcend the confines of travel writing because of his perceptive and empathetic observations of culture and people. Iyer displays an uncanny ability to capture the inner- contradictions of people and the vibrant, changing cultures in which they live.

As a self-fashioned modem Thoreau, Iyer finds solace and silence in foreignness rather than wilderness. Forever an outsider in each place he calls home, Iyer explores the relationship of globalism to the individual's sense of self. …

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