Stranger Than Fiction meets monthly for lively discussion of current nonfiction titles. For our April discussion, we will read Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad In a Post America World.
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 there with romantic ideas about a mythical city perched between East and West, and with a naive sense of the Islamic world beyond. Over the course of her many years of living in Turkey and traveling throughout Greece, Egypt, Afghanistan, and Iran, she learned a great deal about these countries and their cultures, 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 America's decline.