Notes on a Foreign Country by Suzy Hansen
An American Abroad in a Post-American World

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Her book is a deeply honest and brave portrait of an individual sensibility reckoning with her country’s violent role in the world.
-NY Times

Synopsis

Suzy Hansen left her country and moved to Istanbul and discovered America

In the wake of the September 11 attacks and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Suzy Hansen, who grew up in an insular conservative town in New Jersey, was enjoying early success as a journalist for a high-profile New York newspaper. Increasingly, though, the disconnect between the chaos of world events and the response at home took on pressing urgency for her. Seeking to understand the Muslim world that had been reduced to scaremongering headlines, she moved to Istanbul.

Hansen arrived in Istanbul with romantic ideas about a mythical city perched between East and West, and with a naïve sense of the Islamic world beyond. Over the course of her many years of living in Turkey and traveling in Greece, Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran, she learned a great deal about these countries and their cultures and histories and politics. But the greatest, most unsettling surprise would be what she learned about her own country—and herself, an American abroad in the era of American decline. It would take leaving her home to discover what she came to think of as the two Americas: the country and its people, and the experience of American power around the world. She came to understand that anti-Americanism is not a violent pathology. It is, Hansen writes, “a broken heart . . . A one-hundred-year-old relationship.”

Blending memoir, journalism, and history, and deeply attuned to the voices of those she met on her travels, Notes on a Foreign Country is a moving reflection on America’s place in the world. It is a powerful journey of self-discovery and revelation—a profound reckoning with what it means to be American in a moment of grave national and global turmoil.

 

About Suzy Hansen

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Suzy Hansen is contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine and has written for many other publications. In 2007, she was awarded a fellowship from the Institute of Current World Affairs to do research in Turkey. She currently lives in Istanbul. Notes on a Foreign Country is her first book.
 
Published August 15, 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 274 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Notes on a Foreign Country
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Good
on May 25 2017

A mostly illuminating literary debut that shows how Americans’ ignorance about the world has made turmoil and terrorism possible.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Tom Zelman on Aug 18 2017

The innocuous title of Suzy Hansen’s “Notes on a Foreign Country” offers little sense of the eloquent and impassioned prose that lies within the book’s covers.

Read Full Review of Notes on a Foreign Country: A... | See more reviews from Star Tribune

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Hisham Matar on Aug 28 2017

Her book is a deeply honest and brave portrait of an individual sensibility reckoning with her country’s violent role in the world.

Read Full Review of Notes on a Foreign Country: A... | See more reviews from NY Times

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