Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells (Hardcover)
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From one of our most astute observers of human nature, a far-reaching exploration of Japanese history and culture and a moving meditation on impermanence, mortality, and grief.
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.
About the Author
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 newpapers on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific. He splits his time between Nara, Japan, and the United States.
"Illuminating . . ."—Time
“The beloved travel writer and journalist’s wistful and conscious memoir filled with musings about home, culture, family, and death . . . With his trademark blend of amiability, lighthearted humor, and profound observations, Iyer celebrates emotional connection and personal expression, and he upholds death as an affirmation of life and all its seasons.”—Booklist [starred]
“Luminous. . . The book is party a love letter to [his] vibrant [wife] Hiroko, whose clipped English unfolds like haiku, and it’s party and homage to the Japanese culture of delicate manners, self-restraint, and acceptance that ‘sadness lasts longer than mere pleasure.’ The result is an engrossing narrative, a moving meditation on loss, and an evocative, lyrical portrait of Japanese society.”—Publisher’s Weekly
"A lucid writer with endless curiosity, and a secularist with a searcher’s heart. . . Has any travel writer ever written this book? In choosing to exchange life as a perpetual visitor for that of a resident in Japan, Iyer finds a hopeful-making amount of freedom in living in – not just borrowing – daily rituals. . . [Autumn Light] is also a tremendously wise book on the late fires of marriage, how moving toward old age, if you’re lucky, as he is, a burst of warmth emerges to push you forward into the final step, the journey no one’s been able to write about.—Literary Hub
"The acclaimed travel writer and journalist meditates on the impermanence of life. Like many others, Iyer reveres the beauty and portent of autumn. . . Throughout the narrative, the author mixes musings on the ephemerality of existence with scenes of quotidian life. . . a thoughtful work with many poignant moments. . ."—Kirkus Reviews