Pico Iyer: In-Person & Online

Brigitte Lacombe

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Pico Iyer: In-Person & Online

Past Event: Tuesday, May 2, 2023

At Town Hall Seattle—The Great Hall

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In Person & Online

“One of the most soulful and perceptive writers of our time,” Pico Iyer is a renowned travel writer beloved for his gift of perspective. In a new culminating work, The Half Known Life: In Search of Paradise, Iyer brings together the outer world and the inner to offer us a surprising, original, often beautiful exploration of how we might come upon paradise in the midst of our very real lives.

Q&A with Ruchika Tulshyan.

The Half Known Life sees Iyer traveling from Iran to North Korea, from the Dalai Lama’s Himalayas to the ghostly temples of Japan, bringing together a lifetime of explorations to upend our ideas of “utopia.” He asks how we might find peace in the midst of difficulty and suffering, if religion can really lead us back to Eden or only into constant contention, and if paradise exists only in the afterworld or if it can be found in the here and now.

Some of Iyer’s notable works include, Video Night in Kathmandu, which chronicles Iyer’s explorations across ten countries in Asia and the way these lands have been affected—or not—by the influence of Western culture, as well as The Lady and the Monk, a document of Iyer’s time living in a Kyoto monastery and the development of a relationship with a local woman named Sachiko.

For nearly five decades, Iyer spent weeks at a time talking and traveling with the fourteenth Dalai Lama, attending all of his public engagements, and sitting in on his private audiences with old friends, religious leaders, political strategists, and scientists. These uniquely intimate experiences culminated in Iyer’s bestseller, The Open Road; praised by the New York Times Book Review as a “trenchant, impassioned look at a singular life.”

Iyer’s two most recent publications are twinned works about Iyer’s longtime adopted homeland of Japan. Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells is a meditation on impermanence, mortality, and grief seeded in the land which Iyer considers a second home. In addition to his work as an author, Iyer has contributed regular essays for over a quarter-century to TIME, the New York Times, National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveler, and more than 250 other periodicals worldwide.

Ruchika Tulshyan, our Q&A moderator for the evening, is the best-selling author of Inclusion on Purpose: An Intersectional Approach to Creating a Culture of Belonging at Work (MIT Press). The book was described as “transformative” by Dr. Brené Brown. Ruchika is also the founder of Candour, an inclusion strategy practice. A former international business journalist, Ruchika is a regular contributor to The New York Times and Harvard Business Review and a recognized media commentator on workplace culture. Learn more at https://www.rtulshyan.com/.

Event Details

Town Hall Seattle—The Great Hall

1119 8th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

View directions.

Know Before You Go

COVID-19 Policies

The safety of our patrons, artists, community partners, staff, and volunteers continues to be important to us. At this time, facial masks are encouraged but not required for entry, and proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test is no longer required. However, health and safety protocols are subject to change. Before attending events, please check your pre-event email for the most up-to-date information.

Can't find your tickets?

All tickets have been emailed for this event, so be sure to check your inbox for an email from boxoffice@lectures.org. Call us at 206-621-2230 x10 if you can’t find them.

For in-person attendance: Your e-tickets come attached in a PDF with your ticket order confirmation email. Present on your mobile device or bring your printed ticket to the venue the night of the event. Check your pre-event email for details on COVID safety precautions.

For online attendance:  If you purchased a digital pass, SAL will send a pre-event reminder email with instructions to log in and access the online stream on the day of the event.  The night of your event, return to lectures.org/event/pico-iyer and enter the password where prompted. The program begins at 7:30 p.m. (PT) and will be available for viewing for a week after the event.

SAL will also send an email the day of the event, containing the same information. If you have opted out of receiving SAL emails, you will miss this important information—please email us at boxoffice@lectures.org and we will assist you.

Have a question for the speaker?

Want to ask the author something? Send your question to SAL at sal@lectures.org—it might be asked onstage!


 A copy of The Half Known Life is available for Create Your Own Series, and Super SAL subscriptions only, mailed to the subscriber’s door.

Our partner bookstore, Elliott Bay Book Company, will have books available for purchase at their table in the lobby and on their website.

Patrons & Grand Patrons, Have a Drink on SAL!

Patron & Grand Patron seating includes a pre-event drink ticket! Check your pre-event email for details.

Transportation & Parking

Town Hall Seattle is centrally located at 1119 8th Ave, on the corner of 8th and Seneca. Their venue is served by frequent bus routes, is near access to light rail stations, and close to a number of parking options nearby. Please see their website for more details.


Open Captioning is an option for people who have hearing losses, where a captioning screen displaying the words that are spoken or sung is placed on stage. To make a request for open captioning, please contact us at boxoffice@lectures.org or 206.621.2230×10. Please note: for in-person events at Town Hall Seattle, we appreciate a two-week advance notice to allow us time to secure captioning services. 

Closed Captioning is an option for people who have hearing loss, where captioning displays the words that are spoken or sung at the bottom of the video for online events. Captioning is available for all online events; click the “CC” button to view captions during the event.

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) are devices that people with hearing loss use in conjunction with their hearing device (hearing aids or cochlear implants). Town Hall Seattle has a hearing loop system, so you can switch your T-coil hearing aid to telecoil to have the stage’s microphones transmitted directly to your hearing aids. To pick up a headset, check in with any Town Hall usher when you arrive.

Sign Language Interpretation is available upon request for Deaf, DeafBlind, and hard of hearing individuals. To make a request for interpretation, please contact us at boxoffice@lectures.org or 206.621.2230×10, or select “Sign Language Interpretation” from the Accessibility section during your ticket checkout process and we will contact you to confirm details. Please note: we appreciate a two-week advance notice to allow us time to secure interpretation.

Wheelchair Accessible Seating and Accessible Restrooms are available in all sections at Town Hall Seattle, which is fully accessible to ticket holders with physical mobility concerns. Town Hall Seattle recommends that visitors use the 8th Avenue Entrance for events in the Great Hall, and elevators with Braille signage go to all levels within the Hall. The venue has all-gender, ADA-accessible restrooms on the lobby and Forum level. To reserve seating for a specific mobility concern, please contact us at boxoffice@lectures.org or 206.621.2230×10, or select “Wheelchair Accessible or Alternative Seating Options” during ticket checkout, and we will contact you to confirm details. For more details on accessibility features at Town Hall, click here.

Guide and service dogs are welcome.

All-gender restrooms are available.

We are pleased to offer these accessibility services at our venues, and they are provided at no additional cost to ticket holders. Please contact us with any questions and feedback about how we can be more accessible and inclusive. Our Patron Services Manager is available at boxoffice@lectures.org, or Tuesday-Friday, from 12 noon–5 p.m., at 206.621.2230×10.

For more accessibility information, please head to lectures.org/accessibility. If you would like to make accessibility arrangements you do not see listed here, please contact our box office or select “Other Accommodations” from the Accessibility section during your ticket checkout process, and we will contact you to confirm details.


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