What does the elegant nostalgia of Argentina have in common with the raffish nonchalance of Australia? And what do both these countries have in common with North Korea? They are all ‘lonely places’ cut off from the rest of the world by geography, ideology or sheer weirdness. And they have all attracted the attention of Pico Iyer.
Whether he is documenting the cruising rites of Icelandic teenagers, being interrogated by tipsy Cuban police or summarizing the plot of Bhutan’s first feature film (‘a $6500 spectacular about a star-crossed couple: she dies, he throws himself on the funeral pyre, and both live happily ever after as an ox and a cow’), Iyer is always uncannily observant and acerbically funny.