Autumn Light by Pico Iyer, review by Hannah Reidell

I first visited Japan in 2006. I moved there in 2010. It was never the bright lights of Tokyo, the electronic insanity of Akihabara that attracted me. Rather it was the old Japan – the temples, the rice fields, the festivals, the tiny streets of old buildings – that drew me to this incredible country. I left in March 2017. I find myself missing it every day. This beautiful book by Pico Iyer is a perfect remedy for my homesickness.

Iyer is married to a Japanese woman and divides his time between California, where his elderly mother resides, and his home in Nara, Japan. The book begins with the sad news that his father-in-law has died. And so the premise for the book is set. A book about saying farewell. However, whilst this sounds as though this is a grim book, instead, Iyer instead writes a beautiful book that captures the Japanese ability to treasure every moment, to appreciate what every individual person, item, has brought, before bidding them farewell.

I loved this book. It captured so much of what I loved about Japan. It introduces a side of Japan that a lot of people are not fully aware. Iyer captures personalities on the page so well, whilst writing with respect and appreciation for what he is experiencing. 

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Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451493934
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - April 16th, 2019