Suzy Hansen

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Notes on a Foreign Country

Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction
book | Non-Fiction | Aug 2017
US & Canada → Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc (Ed. Eric Chinski)
UK → Corsair (Little Brown) (Ed. James Gurbutt)

Winner of the Overseas Press Club of America's Cornelius Ryan Award

New York Times Book Review Notable Book

Named a Best Book of the Year by New York Magazine and The Progressive

In the wake of the September 11 attacks and the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Suzy Hansen was enjoying early success as a journalist for a glitzy New York media company. She had made for herself the life she had dreamed of since graduating from college. Increasingly, though, the disconnect between the chaos of world events and the response at home took on pressing urgency. Seeking to understand the Muslim world that had been reduced to scaremongering headlines, she decided to move to Istanbul.

Hansen arrived in Istanbul with romantic ideas about a mythical city perched between East and West, and with a naïve sense of the Islamic world beyond. Over the course of her many years of living in Istanbul and travelling around the region, she learned a great deal about these countries and their cultures and 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 American decline. It would take leaving her home to discover what she came to think of as the two Americas: the country and its people, and the experience of American power in the world. Anti-Americanism is not a violent pathology―it is, Hansen writes, “a broken heart . . . A one-hundred-year-old relationship.”

Blending personal memoir, journalism, history, and literary criticism, Notes on a Foreign Country is a moving reflection on America’s place in the world―a powerful journey of self-discovery and a profound reckoning with what it means to be American.


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Helen Manders manages the translation rights for Notes on a Foreign Country

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[In Notes on a Foreign Country] Hansen builds her winning argument by combining personal examination and observation with geopolitical history lessons. She is a fearless patriot, and this is a book for the brave.

Starred Review, Booklist

Hansen writes with both authority and humility and, occasionally, with sharp beauty ... Notes on a Foreign Country is a testament to one journalist's courage in digging deep within herself to understand the real story and to make sure she gets it right.

Barbara Spindel
The Christian Science Monitor

The innocuous title of Suzy Hansen’s Notes on a Foreign Country offers little sense of the eloquent and impassioned prose that lies within the book’s covers ... America has much to learn about the rest of the world, and Hansen leaves us with the fervent hope that Americans can reconnect to the rest of humanity.

Tom Zelman
The Star Tribune

Fascinating... Hansen artfully conveys her own initial lack of awareness of the world, and her realization that she had internalized American exceptionalism into her own identity.

The National Book Review

[Hansen] asks probing and difficult questions that left me ruminating about their significance in our current political climate...  Hansen’s book serves as a call to serious reflection and action for white Americans, even, and perhaps especially, the liberal, well traveled, and well intentioned. 

Rebecca Barr
Los Angeles Times Book Review

A piercingly honest critique of the unexamined white American life.

The New Yorker

A deeply honest and brave portrait of of an individual sensibility reckoning with her country's violent role in the world. 

Hisham Matar
The New York Times Book Review

Informed by deep reading in the history of U.S. foreign policy... At a time when our wrenching politics have turned our gaze on ourselves, [Hansen's] book is a necessary tonic.

New York Magazine

Compelling... [Hansen] vividly captures the disorientation we experience when our preconceived notions collide with uncomfortable discoveries . . . Rare and refreshing. 

The Washington Post

Hansen turns a coming-of-age travelogue into a geopolitical memoir of sorts, without sacrificing personal urgency in the process... Her long stay in Istanbul (she’s still there) gives her an outsider’s vantage on myopic American arrogance that is bracing. And her fascinating insider’s view of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rise upends Western simplicities... The experience is contagious.

Ann Hulbert
The Atlantic

A kind of absolution and redemption for one thoughtful and sensitive US citizen... conducted by an insightful writer with remarkable powers of observation.

The New York Review of Books

A fluid amalgam of memoir, journalism and political critique ― and a very readable challenge to American exceptionalism

Financial Times

Lucid, reflective, probing, and poetic, Hansen’s book is also a searing critique of the ugly depths of American ignorance, made more dangerous because the declining U.S. imperial system coincides with decay at home. The book is a revelatory indictment of American policy both domestic and foreign, made gripping by Hansen’s confident... distillation of complicated historical processes and her detailed, evocative descriptions of places, people, and experiences most American audiences can’t imagine. 

Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed review)

Ardent, often lovely... If Noam Chomsky could write like this, Hansen's work would already be done. 


Elegant and persuasive. 

The Guardian

Amanda Urban
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Karolina Sutton
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Translation Rights
Helen Manders
+44 (0)20 7393 4425
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