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Foreign Correspondences

A Traveller’s Tales

In Foreign Correspondences, Lesley Krueger pursues her self-search with intellectual rigour and remarkable grace. Peripatetic travel is the plot of her life and she wants to know why. Krueger started travelling as soon as she could, to the Yukon, to San Francisco, Mexico and Brazil, to India and Japan, innumerable places, and she describes how these travels made her the person she is…

— Rosemary Sullivan

Lesley Krueger started travelling the moment she was old enough to get on planes, trains and buses by herself. Propelling her was the knowledge that her two immigrant grandmothers had never felt at home in the New World. They remained foreigners in places that often baffled them.

What was it like, being a foreigner? How did you know the proper way to behave in a new country? How did you remain yourself, retain your principles, figure out how to do well and how to do good? She wanted to know.

Weaving her own travel stories in with her grandmothers’ tales, Lesley explores the idea of home and away. Expatriation, the nature of being foreign, the importance of feeling part of a community: these things become crucial as she travels through India, Brazil, Mexico, Japan and both the U.S. and Canada.

Sometimes things get funny: spending the night in a cheap hotel that proves to be a small-town brothel. Sometimes she meets danger: jaguar poachers in Brazil. Then there’s the time she finds herself on a Twin Otter flying through a storm in Labrador, and discovers the reason the plywood floor has holes in it.

Some people say we displace ourselves not to find what we’re looking for, but to find out what we’re looking for. Whatever the reason, it’s clearly visceral. We say we push off, hit the road, pull up roots, take off. Hit, pull, take, push—potent verbs, gut expressions.

Birth is like that, a push from the gut. Fascinating, when you consider the New World obsession with being born again. Her grandmothers never were. Except, perhaps, in these searching words.

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