cover image The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping Malls, and the Search for Home

The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping Malls, and the Search for Home

Pico Iyer. Alfred A. Knopf, $25 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-679-45433-5

A swirl of locations, time zones and cultures marks Iyer's (Video Night in Katmandu) breathless look at today's world, where borders are passed through as quickly as an airport gift shop. To the author, the concept of the global soul is flexible. It could mean someone who, like the international consultant who carries five different plane tickets at all times, calls the road home, or it could represent the citizen who combines a multicultural past with an equally colorful present. ""For a Global Soul like me--for anyone born in several cultures--the challenge in the modern world is to find a city that speaks to as many of our homes as possible,"" Iyer writes. (An ethnic Indian, Iyer grew up in England and the U.S.; today he splits his time between California and Japan.) He blends an exploration of people like himself with the places they inhabit--the netherworld that is an airport, cities separated from their pasts like Hong Kong, the ethnic m lange of Toronto and the improbable urbanity of Olympic-host Atlanta. Many of these locales are at once Everyplace and No Place, and Iyer deftly captures the rootlessness of those who dwell there. As he does in his magazine pieces, Iyer brings a fine spiritual current to his writing, and his descriptive talents are unsurpassed, even if he lets his mouth hang open a little too wide marveling at the postmodernism of it all. (Feb.)