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Pico Iyer returns to campus with Graham Greene on his mind

February 9, 2012

Pico Iyer returns to campus Feb. 22.

Acclaimed author and travel writer Pico Iyer returns to Chapman University to give a free lecture at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22 in the Henley Reading Room, on the second floor of the university’s Leatherby Libraries.   He will be speaking about and reading from his newest book, The Man Inside My Head, a very personal account of the “mysterious kinship” he says he has always felt with the late British novelist Graham Greene.

The talk is free and open to the public; for more information, call 714-532-6026.   Campus parking information is available here online.

Iyer has visited Chapman annually for the past nine years to appear on Chapman President James L. Doti’s TV show, Dialogue with Doti and Dodge, and, as a Visiting Writer with the Department of English, to speak with classes and public audiences.  He calls Chapman his “second home” and adds that he and Doti have become “kindred spirits.”  “Chapman has almost become my academic base in the U.S.,” he says, “and a place that is now very close to my heart.”

Iyer says The Man Inside My Head “explores who the mysterious figures we all have in our heads are, and why they’re there. Almost all of us have some stranger we’ve never met–a singer, a movie star, a writer, a figure from history or from fiction–who somehow seems to know and read us better than our friends and family do. I’ve long felt a mysterious sense of kinship with Graham Greene, and though I could give you reasons–I grew up on the same street in England near which he’d lived, I went through the same classic English boarding-schools as he did, I found myself in places like Saigon and Havana and Haiti and Paraguay (all of which he visited and described), and I’ve long been fascinated by the complexities of faith–I think the real sense of affinity lies beyond explanations.”

He says he will also speak about ”the curious dream-state of writing, the funny lines of affinity, my growing up (commuting between California in the ’60s and an English boarding-school established in the year 1440) and how a 1950s novel by Graham Greene can somehow explain what’s happening in Afghanistan today better than any newspaper can.”

Iyer is a bestselling novelist, journalist and creative non-fiction writer. He is the author of 12 books and has been a regular essayist for Time magazine since 1986. He writes on literature for The New York Review of Books; on globalism for Harper’s; on travel for the Financial Times; and on many other themes for The New York Times, National Geographic, Times Literary Supplement and others.  His books have been published around the world in scores of languages, including Turkish, Russian and Indonesian.

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