Saturday, February 23, 2013

Five of the best books on crossing cultures

Pico Iyer is the author of several books about cultures converging, including Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk, The Global Soul, Abandon, and, most recently, The Man Within My Head.

One of his five top books on crossing cultures, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
Istanbul
by Orhan Pamuk (2003)

Orhan Pamuk has written, for most of his life, at a desk overlooking both Asia and Europe—and the bridge over the Bosporus that links them—and all his work is about the identity of people close enough to the West to realize just how far away they remain. But none of Pamuk's intricate novels has quite the emotional directness and poignancy of this memoir in disguise. Roaming around the back streets and forgotten corners of his beloved hometown, he takes us into its very heart—of melancholy and neglectedness—and tries to rescue its secrets from the many notions that foreigners have projected upon it. As the latest rap song from some Hollywood blockbuster overlaps with the call to prayer outside his window, Pamuk cannot turn away from the so-called clash of civilizations. But in "Istanbul" he gives us his most rooted and soulful work, asking us what it is to have a home and providing us with the most haunting, heartfelt travel book of our young global century.
Read about a novel on Iyer's list.

Istanbul one of Sel├žuk Altun's top 10 Turkish books.

--Marshal Zeringue