The TNB Book Club is reading Exile this month, available from OR Books. Join us! Get your copy now!

And stay tuned for Belén’s appearance on the Otherppl podcast later this month.

About the book:

Che Guevara left Argentina at 22. At 21, Belén Fernández left the U.S. and didn’t look back. Alone, far off the beaten path in places like Syria and Tajikistan, she 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 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.

“Shit,” said Christopher, when the front door of a house sprang open early one morning in the town of Riverbend.  Christopher, who stood on a hill across the road, bent down now, scuttling backwards, rustling through the dry dead leaves, hiding himself further in the brush.  He watched a woman emerge from the Victorian house and stand on the veranda in a long white bathrobe.   She was a brunette, not a blonde.  She was tall and slim, not fleshy and curvaceous as he remembered her.   Squatting down on his haunches, stiff with the cold, Christopher wondered if he’d made a mistake.  Despite the shiny brass number on the door which identified it as #24, she might not be the right woman.  Had she passed by him in the street, he would not have known her.  Her dark hair was gathered up high in a topknot on her small, delicate head.  Her movements were clipped as she walked across the front porch to examine the fronds of a potted tree.  But despite all of this he sensed that the stranger on the porch was his Jenny.  He couldn’t say why it had to be Jenny and still it did.  Her posture as she stood holding the watering can, the attitude, the hand on the hip, the line of her cheek, the long neck, the way his breathing fluttered as she approached the front steps, as she looked up and down the road in each direction – he recognized her in his nerve endings.