Pico Iyer on ‘The Quiet American’: It’s ‘a Private Bible’

Travel Blog  •  Jim Benning  •  04.22.08 | 11:00 AM ET

imageThe seemingly omnipresent Pico Iyer popped up on NPR yesterday with a You Must Read This essay on “The Quiet American.” Why does he always pack the Graham Greene novel in his carry-on? “The novel asks every one of us what we want from a foreign place, and what we are planning to do with it,” he says. “It points out that innocence and idealism can claim as many lives as the opposite, fearful cynicism. And it reminds me that the world is much larger than our ideas of it, and how the Vietnamese woman at the book’s center, Phuong, will always remain outside a foreigner’s grasp. It even brings all the pieces of my own background—Asian, English, American—into the same puzzle.” Iyer recently spoke with World Hum about Tibet and the Dalai Lama.

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