My Life as a Foreign Country: A Memoir (Paperback)

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"Brilliant and beautiful. It surely ranks with the best war memoirs I’ve ever encountered." —Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried


An award-winning poet and former infantry team leader in Iraq, Brian Turner combines his devastating recollections as “Sergeant Turner” with his visions of the experiences of generations of warriors in his family—and even those of the enemy—in a work of profound understanding and shocking beauty.



About the Author


Brian Turner is the author of the memoir My Life as a Foreign Country and the poetry collections Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise. He directs the low-residency MFA at Sierra Nevada College. The Kiss was conceived with his late wife, the acclaimed poet Ilyse Kusnetz, to whom it is dedicated. It was developed from a series he curated for Guernica.

Praise For…


Turner is the rare soldier-writer who takes a deep interest in Iraqis—their language and literature, their past, their daily doings, their inner lives.
— George Packer - The New Yorker

Turner’s voice is prophetic, an eerie calm in the midst of calamity…Achingly, disturbingly, shockingly beautiful.
— Nick Flynn, author of The Reenactments and The Ticking Is the Bomb

[A] praiseworthy example of how the empathetic imagination can function beautifully in nonfiction writing…Turner has a talent for amalgamating disparate experiences, especially between civilian and soldier, but also between history and the present…History can only be served by this kind of attention. Man must look at what he has done. And Turner looks, brilliantly.
— Jen Percy - New York Times Book Review

A brilliant fever dream of war’s surreality, its lastingness, its place in families and in the fate of nations. Each sentence has been carefully measured, weighed with loss and vitality, the hard-earned language of a survivor who has seen the world destroyed and written it back to life. This is a profound and beautiful work of art.
— Benjamin Busch, author of Dust to Dust

Turner’s poetic gaze irradiates his world…[His] memoir is beautiful, electrifying and full of pain.
— Roxana Robinson - Washington Post

In Brian Turner’s extraordinarily capable hands, language is war’s undoing, in the sense that his words won’t allow absurdity and terror to be anything less than real. My Life as a Foreign Country is lyrical and restless, both ironic and profoundly empathetic.
— Mark Doty, author of Fire to Fire, winner of the National Book Award

Brian Turner has given us not so much a memoir as a meditation, rendered with grace and wit and wisdom. If you want to know what modern soldiers see when they look at their world, read this book.
— Larry Heinemann, author of Paco’s Story, winner of the National Book Award

Moments of candor and existential longing break open to expose a world of truths…Brian Turner is a born storyteller.
— Yusef Komunyakaa, author of Neon Vernacular, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

A book about these haunted countries and cities, about the haunted past and a haunted man. It haunts us, too, with the knowledge it imparts—and then mocks our attempts to claim that we can ever fully understand that knowledge. In some ways [it’s] a story of working through trauma, but above all it’s a book about a man, a country, even a species beleaguered by a terrible attachment to war.
— Tomas Hachard - NPR

[O]ne of the most important memoirs to come out of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…Turner’s choice to approach his own story in a way that transcends political narratives, transcends his war, and even transcends himself, makes his memoir exceptional.
— Caleb Cage - The Rumpus


Product Details
ISBN: 9780393351842
ISBN-10: 039335184X
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: October 5th, 2015
Pages: 224
Language: English