The past few days I've been ruminating about the colorful spectrum of people who come under the Displaced Nation’s rubric of “international creative.” I got on this train of thought after reading the New York Times review of Bill Bryson’s new book, The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain.
It remains a marvel to me, perhaps because I spent so much time living in Britain myself, that Bryson, who grew up in Iowa, has never lost his obsession with that part of the world.
He published his Notes from a Small Island exactly 20 years ago, and here he is, back in the UK again, writing yet another travel book. At least he didn’t retrace his steps. Rather, he tries to travel the longest he can in a straight line: from Bognor Regis in the south to Cape Wrath in the Scottish Highlands.
And of course he entertains us with stories of “pleasing Brittanic things” along the way, from cream teas to the nation’s calm way of handling tricky issues like gun control and capital punishment.
No doubt about it, this Midwesterner cannot get enough of his adopted land (he is currently seeking dual citizenship).
Meanwhile, back at the Displaced Nation’s ranch, Lisa Liang has interviewed a fellow Adult Third Culture Kid Sezín Koehler, who strikes me as being at the opposite end of the "displaced creative" spectrum. Born to a Sri Lankan father and a Lithuanian American mother, Sezín lived all over the place growing up and, at this point in her life (she is 36), seems content to be settled in her husband’s hometown of Lighthouse Point, Florida.
Staying put has freed Sezín to live the life of a creative, as her prodigious output (two novels, a Huffington Post column, various artworks) attests. As she tells Lisa:
The one benefit of being an accidental shut-in who works from home here in Lighthouse Point is that I have nothing but time to work on all the creative projects I want.
Sezín has also said that people who knew her as a kid wouldn’t recognize her now. Hm, that makes me wonder about Bill. Did anyone in Iowa know when they saw him devouring everything the Landmark Books series that he would one day be the foremost expat authority on life in the UK?

—ML Awanohara

Photo credit: Bill Bryson (crop of photo by Robert Cowen) via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) .
Looking to extend your horizons? What to do if you're in...

Tokyo: Check out the Northern Lights Festival in Shibuya’s Eurospace, February 6–12, for an eclectic sampling of Nordic cinema—from Denmark’s Dogme movement to Ingmar Bergman’s classics to new releases such as Anders Thomas Jensen's dark comedy Men & Chicken (2015), starring Mads Mikkelsen.
Sydney: Visit the first Australian solo show by young Chinese artist Chen Qiulin, at the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art until February 27. Chen uses various mediums, including tofu(!), to explore the displacement experienced by millions of Chinese people, whether through earthquakes or the government’s Three Dams hydropower project.
Chicago: Change up the usual fare of deep-dish pizza for classic, and pretty authentic, British stodge from Pleasant House Bakery (savory pies), Owen & Engine (Welsh rarebit), and Duke of Perth (all-you-can-eat fish and chips).

While we were all playing on social media...

Calling all Asian American expats in Asia: WSJ Expat contributor Rashmi Jolly Dalai, who is based in Singapore, is seeking Asian American expat parents living in Asia to interview for an upcoming article on reconciling educational philosophies between East (intense emphasis on academics) and West (encouragement of creativity, athleticism, and so on). Does being an expat in Asia make this tension particularly stressful? Qualified parties should contact Rashmi at
How well do you know Canada? Travel writer and international TV host Robin Esrock is looking for “inspiring, fun, quirky and entertaining posts about everything Canada” for Photo essays also welcome. $25 per accepted submission or gallery. Go to more information.
Amsterdam-bound: Congratulations to the five 2016 winners of the Parfitt-Pascoe Writing Residency: Asian American artist Ellen Beard; ATCKs  Meghali Pandey, Sam Parfitt (he is writing a book on the pioneers of Penang) and Catarina Queiroz; and peripatetic poet Geneva Rockeman. As part of the deal, all five will be covering this year’s Families in Global Transition (FIGT) annual conference, to be held in Amsterdam March 10–12.
It can’t belong to you: American poet and fiction writer Garth Greenwell has published his first novel, What Belongs to You (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, January 2016), about an American gay man from Kentucky who travels to Bulgaria to teach at a college in Sofia. As Greenwell told The Paris Review, “This novel came out of an experience in my own life." Greenwell lived in Bulgaria, "a distant, strange place," for a period as a teacher—and was surprised to discover a taboo on gay desire that reminded him of the Kentucky of his youth.
Updates from The Displaced Nation:

TCK TALENT: Sezín Koehler, multimedia artist, tatoo collector, editor and prodigious writer
Columnist Elizabeth (Lisa) Liang starts off 2016 with a guest who has been to the Displaced Nation before, albeit in different guises: as Alice, as film critic, as featured novelist, as repatriate…though never as a TCK Talent. Happy 2016, readers! I hope your January has been splendid thus far. Today’s interviewee is writer, editor, tattoo collector, and Huffington Post contributor Sezín Koehler, who also calls herself Zuzu (a nickname she picked up when living in Prague). …

DIARY OF AN EXPAT WRITER: Back in full-time writing mode and full of resolution(s) for 2016!
We haven’t heard from American expat in Hong Kong and aspiring writer Shannon Young for a while. Does that mean she’s thrown in the towel on the full-time writing gig? Read on to find out… Dear Displaced Diary, It has been a few months since my last entry. When we left off, I had just completed the final book in my post-apocalyptic Seabound Chronicles, …

Other recent posts:

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Best of expat fiction 2015

CULTURE SHOCK TOOLBOX: Expats, start the year off right: build something of value in your adopted culture

LOCATION, LOCUTION: Uprooted from life in the UK, Vanessa Couchman writes novels about people with roots

Expats, here’s to developing your own New Year’s rituals, preferably with a displaced twist!

Alice in Expatland: Paying tribute as her 150th anniversary year winds to a close
Matters of debate:

Many Americans behaved like buffoons just before last weekend’s blizzard arrived. They flocked to Trader Joe’s and stocked up on low-energy, perishable foods like baby arugula rather than survival goods like batteries and cans of beans, observes Slate columnist Daniel Engber.
Swedes should be less reserved about expressing their views on Europe’s refugee crisis. Gothenburg-based American Ariel Kramer came to this conclusion after noticing that her Swedish acquaintances felt inhibited about sharing their opinions for fear of being perceived as racist.
Wanaka, New Zealand, is the most relaxing place on earth. That’s what travel photographer Johan Lolos contends after traveling 25,000+ km (15,500+ miles) across both main islands, including the smaller and less-known Stewart Island (NZ’s third biggest island).

Surprising discoveries:

Hong Kong people are more accustomed to and accepting of “overseas Chinese” than the Shanghainese. At least that’s what Iris Lam discovered when she returned to Asia for work after growing up in Toronto—she ultimately chose to live in Hong Kong because it lets her enjoy Chinese culture as well as an expat identity.
Australian expats in the United States found subtle ways to celebrate Australia Day (January 26) despite not having the day off from work. Some offered American work colleagues a sample of Vegemite on toast, while others went to great lengths to make their own lamingtons(?!), and still others hatched plans to “take a sickie.”
Not following your calling is worse than not having one. According to the findings of a new psychological study, those who do not feel called to any particular vocation report higher levels of work engagement, career commitment, and satisfaction than those who have, but cannot pursue, their passion in life.
We hope you have a glorious week of international creativity. Please send any news, comments, Wanaka brochures and any leftover home-made lamingtons to You can follow us on Facebook here and/or Twitter here for more frequent updates.

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