Borderline Citizen: Dispatches from the Outskirts of Nationhood


Product Details

$21.95  $20.41
University of Nebraska Press
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.5 X 0.48 inches | 0.6 pounds

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About the Author

Robin Hemley is the author of numerous books, including Invented Eden; Reply All: Stories; A Field Guide for Immersion Writing; Nola; Turning Life into Fiction; and Do-Over! He has won many awards for his writing, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and three Pushcart Prizes, as well as residencies at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center, the Bogliasco Foundation, the Fine Arts Work in Provincetown, the MacDowell Colony, and others.


"Engaging bits about intriguing lands, all in service of trying to 'understand the complexities of the world.'"--Kirkus Reviews-- "Kirkus Reviews" (12/8/2019 12:00:00 AM)
"A thought-provoking work that troubles the complexities of nationhood."--Wendy Hinman, Foreword Reviews--Wendy Hinman "Foreword Reviews" (12/8/2019 12:00:00 AM)
"Borderline Citizen makes not only for interesting historical reading, but an absorbing vantage on our contemporary crises of belonging."--Justin Tyler Clark, Los Angeles Review of Books--Justin Tyler Clark "Los Angeles Review of Books" (4/22/2020 12:00:00 AM)
"Robin Hemley explodes the very idea of nationhood and in so doing redefines it, offering a more thoughtful and humane notion of how to be a citizen of our world today. These 'dispatches' are travel writing at its best, where the writer delves into the intimacies of foreign places, seeing beyond their exotic surfaces, in search of a global humanity. Brilliantly comic, darkly but poignantly introspective, Borderline Citizen should be required reading for the twenty-first century and beyond."--Xu Xi, author of This Fish is Fowl: Essays of Being--Xu Xi "Los Angeles Review of Books" (9/20/2019 12:00:00 AM)
"Robin Hemley begins Borderline Citizen with the observation that 'as travelers, we see surfaces first. It's easy to exoticize, to misinterpret, nearly impossible to see something except through our own lenses.' He then goes on to show how a thoughtful, perceptive, and open-hearted traveler can overcome all those limitations. In vividly rendered essays, Hemley takes us to some of history's oddest bits of territory, showing how human lives are shaped (and often distorted) by arbitrary political boundaries. With superb storytelling, he explores the meanings of nationalism, sovereignty, citizenship, and the loyalties of the human heart."--Corey Flintoff, former NPR foreign correspondent--Corey Flintoff "Los Angeles Review of Books" (9/20/2019 12:00:00 AM)
"In these days of ultranationalism comes a surprising antidote in Robin Hemley's cabinet of curiosities, Borderline Citizen, his account of his journeys to the 'bits and bobs' of national territories stranded by accidents of geography, history, and stubbornness. Hemley is a delightful guide, but there are serious questions for him to explore here as well--and lessons for all the mainlands and mother countries about the meaning and price of national identity. Quite possibly the most original travel book published in years."--Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family and This Brilliant Darkness--Jeff Sharlet "Los Angeles Review of Books" (9/20/2019 12:00:00 AM)
"Robin Hemley has traveled to more countries than just about anyone I know, and along the way he's collected vital observations on the tragic absurdity of nationalism and the implicit violence of a world crisscrossed with borders. I think of him in the company of Pankaj Mishra, Pico Iyer, Bruce Chatwin, and John Berger--writers whose transnational souls challenge the idea of a single place of origin."--Jess Row, author of White Flights and Your Face in Mine--Jess Row "Los Angeles Review of Books" (9/20/2019 12:00:00 AM)
"This is a book of daring travel and quiet observation. Borderline Citizen challenges common constructs of national borders, patriotism, and citizenship to shed an urgent light on the exile's predicament. With a sharp wit guided by empathy, Hemley has written a necessary and entirely unique book about what it really means to belong in a divided world."--Jennifer Percy, journalist and author of Demon Camp--Jennifer Percy "Los Angeles Review of Books" (9/20/2019 12:00:00 AM)
"Robin Hemley is a born traveler, and in Borderline Citizen he visits exclaves, enclaves, and places in between to explore what loyalty to and love of a country mean. In Havana and Hong Kong, Kaliningrad and the Falkland Islands, he poses questions about identity, a complicated subject for many in the twenty-first century, and what he learns along the way is by turns illuminating and amazing. Thus a journey to an artificial rain forest in Nebraska inspires a meditation on authenticity, which reveals that in these uncertain times there is no better guide to the challenges we face than Robin Hemley."--Christopher Merrill, author of Self-Portrait with Dogwood--Christopher Merrill "Los Angeles Review of Books" (9/20/2019 12:00:00 AM)
"Few writers have traveled as voraciously as Robin Hemley, and none with his special blend of curiosity, heart, and wit. His latest collection interrogates the idea of nationhood by spotlighting a wide spectrum of citizens--from an Afghan refugee to a Chinese billionaire--to prove that personhood is all that matters in the end. At a time when nationalism is resurging around the globe, Hemley bolsters the spirit with this vibrant read."--Stephanie Elizondo Griest, author of All the Agents and Saints: Dispatches from the U.S. Borderlands--Stephanie Elizondo Griest "Los Angeles Review of Books" (9/20/2019 12:00:00 AM)
"Someone draws a line and you must not cross it. . . . In Robin Hemley's newest creation, Borderline Citizen, he traverses the globe interrogating ideas of home and (inter)national identity. Hemley brings to light the power of place, the echoes of hope even in desolation, and reminds us that in whatever land, there are people living and surviving and loving. This is not a 'grass is always greener' book but rather one that paints the world as always green and should always be green, no matter what shadows that try to dim it."--Ira Sukrungruang, author of Buddha's Dog and Other Meditations--Ira Sukrungruang "Los Angeles Review of Books" (9/20/2019 12:00:00 AM)
"With disarming charm and ease, Robin Hemley writes of enclaves and exclaves, incidents and accidents, and serendipitous personal encounters, teasing out important and current questions about the things that divide and bring us together. Borderline Citizen is a first-class ticket to understanding the complexities of identity and nation."--Angelo R. Lacuesta, author of City Stories--Angelo R. Lacuest "Los Angeles Review of Books" (9/20/2019 12:00:00 AM)