Upcoming Event

Pico Iyer

presents

A Beginner's Guide to Japan:
Observations and Provocations

and

Autumn Light:
Season of Fire and Farewells

This event includes a book signing

Date

Oct
17
Thursday
October 17, 2019
7:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store and the Japan Society of Boston welcome acclaimed author and travel writer PICO IYER for a discussion of his latest books, A Beginner's Guide to Japan: Observations and Provocations and Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells.

About A Beginner's Guide to Japan

After thirty-two years in Japan, Pico Iyer can use everything from anime to Oscar Wilde to show how his adopted home is both hauntingly familiar and the strangest place on earth. "Arguably the world's greatest living travel writer" (Outside), he draws on readings, reflections, and conversations with Japanese friends to illuminate an unknown place for newcomers, and to give longtime residents a look at their home through fresh eyes.

A Beginner's Guide to Japan is a playful and profound guidebook full of surprising, brief, incisive glimpses into Japanese culture. Iyer's adventures and observations as he travels from a meditation-hall to a love-hotel, from West Point to Kyoto Station, make for a constantly surprising series of provocations guaranteed to pique the interest and curiosity of those who don't know Japan, and to remind those who do of the wide range of fascinations the country and culture contain.

About Autumn Light

For years, Pico Iyer has split his time between California and Nara, Japan, where he and his Japanese wife, Hiroko, have a small home. But when his father-in-law dies suddenly, calling him back to Japan earlier than expected, Iyer begins to grapple with the question we all have to live with: how to hold on to the things we love, even though we know that we and they are dying. In a country whose calendar is marked with occasions honoring the dead, this question is more urgent than anywhere else.

Iyer leads us through the year following his father-in-law's death, introducing us to the people who populate his days: his ailing mother-in-law, who often forgets that her husband has died; his absent brother-in-law, who severed ties with his family years ago but to whom Hiroko still writes letters; and the men and women in his ping-pong club, who, many years his senior, traverse their autumn years in different ways. And as the maple leaves begin to redden and the heat begins to soften, Iyer offers us a singular view of Japan, in the season that reminds us to take nothing for granted.

Praise for A Beginner's Guide to Japan

“With an elegant, understated manner, Iyer offers poignant reflections on his adopted country and its maddening contradictions and shifting parts . . . Subtle observations [that] reveal a great deal . . . Marvelously nuanced." —Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Autumn Light

“What holds everything together, besides Iyer’s elegantly smooth prose style and gift for detailed observation, is a circling around the theme of autumn in Japan and this autumnal period in his life . . . This season teaches him the lesson of impermanence, the inevitability of decay and ‘how to hold on to the things we love even though we know that we and they are dying’ . . . There’s much wisdom in what he says” —The New York Times Book Review

“Profound . . . Iyer’s writing is both simple and lyrical. . . The memoir succeeds, with its deceptively quiet descriptions of autumn both in the natural world, and in the season of his and Hiroko’s own lives, in echoing a uniquely Japanese appreciation of the fleeting nature of time, as well as the humbling acceptance that nothing lasts.” —New York Journal of Books

“The beauty of its prose and the quality of its insight, this gentle, reflective reminiscence reveals again Iyer's literary virtuosity. . . Much of what makes Autumn Light so enchanting is the effortless way Iyer extracts meaning from life's quotidian details . . . Arresting . . . he reveals fundamental truths in an unobtrusively aphoristic style . . . An ideal volume to read and read again for both pleasure and wisdom.” —Shelf Awareness

Pico Iyer
Pico Iyer

Pico Iyer

Pico Iyer is the author of eight works of nonfiction and two novels. A writer for Time since 1982, he is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, Harper's, the New York Review of Books, the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times, and many other magazines and newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific. He splits his time between Nara, Japan, and the United States.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

Unable to attend a Harvard Book Store author event? You can still pre-order a signed book by one of our visiting authors.

While we can't guarantee fulfillment of a signed book pre-order, our authors are almost always able to sign extra books to fulfill such orders.

Ordering a signed book on harvard.com:

  • Add the book to your shopping cart and then click Checkout.
  • Specify in Order Comments that you want a signed copy of the book.
  • Please note: online orders for signed copies must be placed at least one business day before the event. If you are ordering the day of, please call us instead.

Ordering a signed book by phone:

  • Call us at (617) 661-1515 and one of our booksellers will take your order. Specify you'd like a signed copy.
  • If you are requesting a personalized inscription and/or requesting your book be shipped, we'll need to take down credit card information. If you are planning to pick up the signed book in the store, you can pay on pick-up.

FAQ:

Can I request a personalized inscription?
Unless otherwise noted, we are happy to take requests for the author to sign your book to a specific person, but we can't guarantee it. If you do get a personalized inscription, the book will be non-returnable. We will require credit card information when you place the order.

Do signed books cost more?
There is no extra fee for a signed book!

Do I have to pick it up in the store, or can you deliver my signed book?
As with all web or phone orders, we can hold your book for in-store pickup, or ship it anywhere in the country.

I am planning to attend an author event. Do I need to pre-order a book?
No need. We'll be selling books at the event, and nearly all of our events include a signing at the end of the talk.

More questions? Give us a call!

Co-Sponsored by Japan Society of Boston

Founded in 1904, the Japan Society of Boston aims to promote active interchanges between Japanese and Americans for mutual understanding, benefit, and enjoyment. We foster a network of individuals, institutions, and businesses, which are connected by a strong interest in Japan and a shared recognition of the importance of the U.S.–Japan relationship.

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