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About the book
  • Published: 7 August 2014
  • ISBN: 9781448139965
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 224

My Life as a Foreign Country




'My Life as a Foreign Country is brilliant and beautiful. It surely ranks with the best war memoirs I've ever encountered - a humane, heartbreaking, and expertly crafted work of literature.' Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried

In 2003, Sergeant Brian Turner was at the head of a convoy of 3,500 US soldiers as they entered the Iraqi desert.

Now, still stalked by conflict, he retraces his war experience and meditates on the echoes between his story and those of generations of soldiers marching to battle before him.

Spanning pre-deployment to combat zone, World War I to Vietnam, boredom to bloodlust, roadside bombs to open mic nights, My Life as a Foreign Country asks what it means to be a soldier and a human being.


‘The most haunting book I read this year’
Irish Times

‘His shrapnel-like chapters come at you from all angles… Compulsive’
Guardian

‘Turner is a soldier with the soul of a poet’
Daily Telegraph

‘Wrathful, wry and incantatory’
Erica Wagner, New Statesman

‘Beautiful, electrifying and full of pain’
Washington Post

  • Pub date: 7 August 2014
  • ISBN: 9781448139965
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 224

About the Author

Brian Turner

Brian Turner is a former Te Mata Poet Laureate and one of this country's best loved poets. An ardent and accomplished sportsman, conservationist and champion of our wild places, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Otago in 2011. He is the author of several books and lives in the Ida Valley in Central Otago.

Also by Brian Turner

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Praise for My Life as a Foreign Country

“Brian Turner's stunning 'war memoir' is a triumph of form and content...Man must look at what he has done. And Turner looks, brilliantly”

Jen Percy, New York Times

“[Turner is] a soldier with the soul of a poet…remarkable”

Daily Telegraph

“Wrathful, wry and incantatory”

Erica Wagner, New Statesman

“Ambitious… Fascinating”

Sunday Times

“His shrapnel-like chapters come at you from all angles… [A] most compulsive of survivor’s tales”

Guardian

“An uncompromising story of violence and beauty, searing trauma and a dreamlike circulation between the past and the present… This marvellous memoir is his poetic message, floating gently towards us”

Joanna Bourke, Sunday Telegraph

“Vivid… The war on the ground and the conflict in the head are combined in a work of art”

Iain Finlayson, The Times

“The most haunting book I read this year”

Lia Mills, Irish Times

“My Life as a Foreign Country is brilliant and beautiful. It surely ranks with the best war memoirs I've ever encountered - a humane, heartbreaking, and expertly crafted work of literature.”

Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried

“Contemporary wars are built on the distortion of language, the awful acronyms and euphemisms meant to screen us from the real. But in Brian Turner's extraordinarily capable hands, language is war's undoing, in the sense that these words won't allow absurdity and terror to be anything less than real.”

Mark Doty

“Brian Turner has given us not so much a memoir as a mediation, 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, recipient of the National Book Award.

“I love about My Life as A Foreign Country is its weird laugh-out-loud mood, and its in-the-thick-of-it hyper-sensual ability to capture beauty in the midst of terror. In these pages, home-spun truths sit alongside quotes from Marcus Aurelius, Walt Whitman and The Bhagavad Gita. My Life... is the melted-down language of a dream despatch from a capacious-hearted warrior poet.”

Daljit Nagra

“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 voice is prophetic, an eerie calm in the midst of calamity - as precise as a bullet, as all-encompassing as the apocalypse. One question echoes through these pages - How does someone leave a war behind, and walk into the rest of their life? My Life as a Foreign Country holds a mirror up to what propels us, over and over, into those wars, and serves as a reminder that, in the end, war is simply about counting the dead. Achingly, disturbingly, shockingly beautiful, in the end.”

Nick Flynn, author of The Reenactments and The Ticking Is the Bomb

“As simultaneously delicate and hard-edged as his poetry.”

Richard W Strachan, Herald

“Turner’s eloquent rendering illuminates both the shared space and the painful divide between poet and soldier, mission and memory, war and peace.”

Roxanna Robinson, Washington Post


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