Belén Fernández is the guest. Her new book, Exile: Rejecting America and Finding the World, is available from OR Books. It is the official September pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.
After growing up in Washington, D.C. and Texas, and then attending Columbia University in New York, 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 close encounters with a variety of unpredictable men, 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 established herself as a one of the most trenchant observers of America’s interventions around the world, following in the footsteps of great foreign correspondents such as Martha Gellhorn and Susan Sontag.
Fernández is a contributing editor at Jacobin and graduated from Columbia with a BA in political science. She frequently writes for Al Jazeera, Middle East Eye, and Jacobin, and is also the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work.