Pico Iyer: ‘I grew up in Britain but I am entirely Asian’


With the literary festivals season blossoming around Asia, Singapore will host its 22 nd writers’ festival from 1st to 10th November  with big names dropping in, including Pico Iyer. Pico Iyer, who has spent the last three decades in Japan will be talking on ‘Beyond Borders, Beyond Words’. Iyer will reflect on human connection and belonging. After his talk, he will be in dialogue with acclaimed novelist who has spent a large part of her life in Japan too and now lives in Singapore, Meira Chand.

This year Pico Iyer has been the writer in residence for the newly renovated Raffles Hotel in Singapore. He penned down a book on the Hotel called This could be Home. the novel was launched on 5th august. Long ago in history, this heritage hotel had housed the likes of great writers like Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham.

Pico Iyer was born Siddharth Pico Raghavan Iyer in 1957. His great-great-great-grand father was a Gujarati writer-reformer in the late nineteenth century, Mahipatram Nilkanth . His parents were Indian academics who moved to England to study. Iyer’s unusual name is a combination of the Buddha’s name, Siddhartha, with that of the fifteenth century Florentine neo-Platonist Pico della Mirandola and the last name is that of his father. Schooled in Oxford and Harvard, Pico Iyer is known for his brilliant essays and travel writing. He has written a few novels too.

This year Pico Iyer attends two litfests, one in Singapore and another in Hong Kong, both in the same time frame(1 st to 10 th November). So, after finishing his talk in Singapore, he will be heading for the troubled island of South China sea.

Pico Iyer is known to have said: “For more and more of us, home has really less to do with a piece of soil, than you could say, with a piece of soul.” However, looks like he is finding a home now as in an interview with South China Morning Post, he says: ” I grew up in Britain, but I’m entirely Asian. As soon as I came to Singapore I felt that [the city] is my brother, this is a place with a strong British presence and grounding, but distinctly Asian…”

Read more about his views in this interview in South China Morning Post.

 

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