Belén Fernández is the guest. Her new book, ExileRejecting 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.

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.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Juliet Escoria. Her debut novel, Juliet the Maniac, is available from Melville House. It was the official May pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

This is Juliet’s second time on the program. She first appeared in Episode 273 on April 30, 2014.

She also wrote the short story collection Black Cloud, which was originally published in 2014 by Civil Coping Mechanisms. In 2015, Emily Books published the ebook, Maro Verlag published a German translation, and Los Libros de la Mujer Rota published a Spanish translation. Witch Hunt, a collection of poems, was published by Lazy Fascist Press in 2016.

Escoria was born in Australia, raised in San Diego, and currently lives in West Virginia.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with T Kira Madden. Her new memoir, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, is available from Bloomsbury. It was the official March pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

T Kira Madden is a lesbian APIA writer, photographer, and amateur magician living in New York City. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College and an BA in design and literature from Parsons School of Design and Eugene Lang College. She is the founding Editor-in-chief of No Tokens, a magazine of literature and art, and is a 2017 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in nonfiction literature from the New York Foundation for the Arts. She has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, Tin House, DISQUIET, Summer Literary Seminars, and Yaddo, where she was selected for the 2017 Linda Collins Endowed Residency Award. She facilitates writing workshops for homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals and currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. There is no period in her name.

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Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Thomas Kohnstamm. His debut novel, Lake City, is available from Counterpoint Press. It is the official January pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

Kohnstamm is also the author of Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? (Crown). He was born in Seattle and lives there with his wife and two children.

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Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Morris Collins. His debut novel, Horse Latitudes, is available from Dzanc Books. It was the official December 2018 pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

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Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Meghan O’Gieblyn. Her new essay collection, Interior States, is available from Anchor Books. It is the official October pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

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This month, the book club will be reading Circa, the terrific debut novel by Adam Greenfield. Available from Pelekinesis.

Read some excerpts here.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Robert Goolrick. His new novel, The Dying of the Light, is available from Harper. It is the official July pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

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This month, the TNB Book Club is reading The Dying of the Light, the excellent new novel by Robert Goolrick, bestselling author of A Reliable Wife, Heading Out to Wonderful, and The Fall of Princes. Stay tuned for Robert’s appearance on the Otherppl with Brad Listi podcast later this month. Enjoy!

This month, the TNB Book Club is reading Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation, and Change, by Tao Lin.   Available now from Vintage Originals, Trip is a remarkable and sometimes harrowing exploration of creativity, Terence McKenna, language, imagination, and, yes, drugs.  This is Lin’s first nonfiction book, a fascinating window into his life and work and deepest interests.  

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Elle Nash. Her debut novel Animals Eat Each Other is the official April pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club. It is available from Dzanc Books.

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Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi. Her new novel Call Me Zebra is available from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It is the official March pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

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Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Willy Vlautin. His new novel Don’t Skip Out On Me is available from Harper Perennial. It is the official February pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

This is Willy’s second appearance on the program. He was the guest in Episode 258, on March 9, 2014.

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Available from Dzanc Books

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This Book Is Not For You introduces the world to Neptune―a self-destructive and overly self-aware hero for our times. Neptune’s misadventures are funny, harrowing, thrilling, and sweet, and the novel’s recurring Chapter Ones give a fresh start to the story on each page. Neptune’s bad decisions might make you cringe, but you’ll cheer for him…. An exciting and inventive novel.”  –Craig Finn of The Hold Steady

Utilizing an innovative mashup of genres, ranging from pulp fiction, dark comedy, and metafiction, This Book Is Not for You charts the actions of nineteen-year-old Neptune, a misfit and punk haunted by the death of his parents. Having fallen in with an anarchist group determined to blow up a university building, he steals the dynamite instead, igniting an entirely different brand of trouble: the murder of his mentor; a three-way manhunt; and the mystery of the Ghost Machine, a walkman that replays snippets from his own twisted past. Told in a nonstop chain of Chapter Ones, Daniel A. Hoyt’s debut novel explores the clash between chaos and calm, the instinct for self-destruction and the longing for redemption.