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“A searing critique of U.S. imperialism that couldn’t be more perfectly timed in its release.” ―Dahr Jamail, author of The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption

At 21, Belén left the U.S. and didn’t look back. Alone, far off the beaten path in places like Syria and Tajikistan, she confronts violence, lechery, and places where it’s hard to find a good glass of wine, and reflects on what it means to be an American in a largely American-made mess of a world.

After growing up in Washington, D.C. and Texas, and then attending Columbia University in New York, Belén Fernández ended up in a state of self-imposed exile from the United States. From trekking―through Europe, the Middle East, Morocco, and Latin America―to packing avocados in southern Spain, to marrying a Palestinian-Lebanese man, to witnessing the violent aftermath of the 2009 coup in Honduras, the international travel allowed her by an American passport has, ironically, given her a direct view of the devastating consequences of U.S. machinations worldwide. For some years Fernández survived thanks to the generosity of strangers who picked her up hitchhiking, fed her, and offered accommodations; then she discovered people would pay her for her powerful, unfiltered journalism, enabling―as of the present moment―continued survival.

In just a few short years of publishing her observations on world politics and writing from places as varied as Lebanon, Italy, Uzbekistan, Syria, Mexico, Turkey, Honduras, and Iran, Belén Fernández has earned a place alongside Martha Gellhorn and Susan Sontag as one of the most trenchant observers of American actions abroad.

The Nervous Breakdown is an online culture magazine and literary community. It was founded in 2006. Our masthead can be found here.

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