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Above: portrait of Graham Greene by Margaret Wood. Below: photo of Pico Iyer by Derek Shapton.

The half-believer

Pico Iyer on Graham Greene

The paperback edition of Pico Iyer’s book The Man Within My Head, which is both a memoir and an essay on novelist Graham Greene (1904–1991), came out earlier this year. Iyer, a British-born essayist, reporter, travel writer and novelist, is the author of Video Night in Kathmandu and many other books. He has been described as “Thomas Merton on a frequent flier pass.” I had a chance to talk to him about his interest in Greene’s novels.

To what can we ascribe the durability of Graham Greene as not only a literary figure but a figure “within people’s heads”?

That may arise out of his gift for intimacy on the page, the sense of vulnerability his characters incarnate and the fact that he seems to be as open in his fiction as he was guarded in real life. His novels read like confessionals, and to that extent they may speak to many readers—of any faith or none.


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