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Infinite Country

af Patricia Engel

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2121398,666 (4.1)14

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Viser 1-5 af 13 (næste | vis alle)
Another stunning piece of work by Engel. I always find myself in bittersweet sighs every time I finish one of her books. For a novel clocking in at just under 200 pages, there is so much depth here. I marveled at how each family member added their own piece to the story and then how Indigenous stories and wisdom were woven in on top of it all. ( )
  LibroLindsay | Jun 18, 2021 |
Wow! Patricia Engel has packed much to think about into a succinct novel. The book begins as Talia, a 15-year-old, locks up a nun, escapes from a reform school in the Andes, and travels across Colombia, where her father lives. Her ultimate goal is to rejoin her mother in the USA.

According to Lily Meyer’s review for NPR, “ Infinite Country is not meant to center on character. Its fragmented, summary-focused form clearly prioritizes ideas — how do we define home? Family? Safety? — above all else. But these ideas aren't abstractions, and Engel's characters aren't flat. Nuanced, dimensional characters exist to provoke emotional responses, not intellectual ones, which tells me Engel is out for both.” I was glad to have read this review before listening to the audiobook narrated by Ines del Castillo. I kept thinking that my mind had wandered, and I missed something. However, I now believe that the author skips around in the timeline so that the reader will get her message, not get attached to characters.

It is clear that Infinite Country focuses on the United States’ immigration policies, past and present, and forces us to consider why our great country is still viewed as paradise by so many people in other countries. Mauro and Elena, Talia’s father and mother, emigrated legally from Colombia to the United States, but Mauro is eventually deported. Talia and one of her three siblings is an American citizen, and through the narrative, we view the inner turmoil of being a child of two worlds. The two worlds, Bogota, Colombia, and so many places in the United States, are rife with violence. Yet, it is unclear whether it is naivete or passion that draws people such as this family to desire a life in the states.

Some of the ideas that I jotted down while reading include:
-The United States is a nation at war with itself.
-Who are the victims and villains in the immigration sagas?
-Are babies burdens? What about middle-class family planning in the US and forced sterilizations in Colombia?
-Why has the United States so often separated immigrant families? This is not a NEW phenomenon, as illustrated in this book. Fathers were often deported, resulting in heartbreaking family dynamics.
-How do we define family? Safety?
-How much are human beings like other migratory beings?
-Do humans have genetic relationships or comfort zones in the lands of their birth? What about animals?
-Why do we use a word like MINORITY to refer to people?
-Do we hear the word undocumented and view it as a disease to be avoided?
-Some folklore and mythology, such as the parrot and condor story told in this book, is well worth studying for age-old wisdom about savagery and domination of one species over another. The condor is Colombia’s national symbol of freedom and sovereignty.
-Are the predator and prey commonly studies in biology similar to the emigration and immigration policies of the United States?
-Are emigrants intentionally trafficking themselves? Must they always live in fear?
-What are the psychological and societal issues related to the attachment, detachment, and reunification of children and parents?
-What about the author’s inclusion of the idea that “displacement of children is like repotted flowers forced to live in the wrong habitat.”
https://quipsandquotes.net/?p=548 ( )
  LindaLoretz | Apr 22, 2021 |
"Infinite Country is the story of two countries and one mixed-status family—for whom every triumph is stitched with regret, and every dream pursued bears the weight of a dream deferred. " This is an immigrant's story. It is written by a woman who is of Columbian descent, and who lives and works in America. It is the story of the heartache and despair of people who have had to leave their beloved homeland behind in order to escape from strife, war and anarchy, and how they try to find a better life in a country like the United States. The immigrant's life is not ever easy in their new land. They take whatever work they can find, and in most cases it has to be cash work, because they are not citizens of the country. Families live in fear that they will be separated from their loved ones. That is exactly what happened to Elena and Mauro. They fled Colombia to get away from danger. They both had tourist visas when they left, but when the six months was up, they were considered illegal aliens. They lived a life of constant worry, trying to stay out of the public eye, and the long arm of ICE. Mauro does in fact get picked up and sent back to Colombia leaving Elena with three children, one of whom was an infant. Talia, the youngest, is eventually sent back to Colombia to be raised by Elena's mother and Mauro. The family remains divided for 15 years. None of them can really move on. It is tragic to see the way that things can unfold in this type of situation. The effect on the family is devastating. Eventually the family does get back together again, but still the fear and uncertainty remains. This is a very well-written book, that deserves many accolades and prizes. I'm very glad that I read it, as it opened my eyes to this issue, and to the hardships that immigrants are subjected to daily. This is true in all of North America, not just the United States. ( )
  Romonko | Apr 1, 2021 |
Lyrical, heartfelt, with sadness and quiet graceful moments and the goodness in people who carry on with their lives as best they can. ( )
  Perednia | Mar 31, 2021 |
Spare but beautiful prose. ( )
  c.archer | Mar 28, 2021 |
Viser 1-5 af 13 (næste | vis alle)
The prose is serpentine and exciting as it takes the scenic route to nowhere. There is a compliment in that. Her writing sets out to be majestic, and it is, like an overflowing soufflé.

The most unforgettable scenes in the novel are the intimate and meticulously rendered descriptions of Andean landscapes and mythology, of Colombia’s long history of violence. Engel’s capacity to dive deep into history and folklore extends also into her narration of the life of Talia’s father and the family patriarch, Mauro.

The novel captures the romance of the immigrants’ first days in America with a visceral tenderness. Their skin darkens in the Texan sun. They see the ocean for the first time. I feel sorry for their lost youth, then angry at their gullibility.

This is a compulsively readable novel that will make you feel the oxytocin of comfort and delusion.

The ending reads like child-of-immigrant fan fiction. I’d hire Engel to ghostwrite my nightmares.
tilføjet af VivienneR | RedigerThe New York Times (Mar 5, 2021)
Patricia Engel’s novels don’t begin so much as they crack open. Consider the first line of the Miami writer’s 2010 debut, “Vida”: “It was the year my uncle got arrested for killing his wife, and our family was the subject of all the town gossip.” The start of 2016’s “The Veins of the Ocean” presents a man, maddened by his wife’s infidelity, who takes their toddler son to a bridge, lifts the boy “as high in the sky as he’d go” and throws him into Biscayne Bay. The child survives. The father is dead by the third page.

“Infinite Country,” Engel’s latest novel, leads with another surprising act of violence. At a reformatory in the Colombian mountains, a group of girls, “some of whom were murderers on the verge,” lure a nun into their room with cries of “Fire!,” subdue her and escape. The mastermind of this plot is 15-year-old Talia, an American born to Colombian immigrants and sentenced to the prison school after she burned a man in Bogotá with hot oil as revenge for a murdered cat.

A gifted storyteller whose writing shines even in the darkest corners, Engel understands that the threat of violence is a constant in people’s lives and that emotional acts of abuse can be as harmful as physical ones. In “Infinite Country,” she focuses on the psychological injury that results when families are “split as if by an ax” for political or economic reasons.

“Infinite Country” falters only when, late in the book, Engel hands over the narration to Karina and Nando in a well-intentioned if discordant gesture to bring these previously unexamined characters into the foreground. The siblings — one an American citizen, the other undocumented — have important things to say about what Karina calls “the United States of Diasporica,” but the shift in perspective and a surprise twist deflate what had been airtight storytelling.

It’s not a fatal error. Engel brings the story of Elena and Mauro, and that of Talia’s quest for freedom, to a satisfying close. And in literature, as in life, the question of citizenship, of what it means to belong to a country and to have a country belong to you, remains unresolved. “I haven’t yet figured out if by the place of my birth I was betrayed or I am the betrayer,” Karina says, “or why this particular nation and not some other should be our family pendulum.”
tilføjet af VivienneR | RedigerThe Washington Post (Mar 3, 2021)
Kudos to the writer of this book. You did an amazing job. Why don't you try to join NovelStar's writing competition? You might win a prize, judging from the book I just read.
tilføjet af MarshaMellow | RedigerLibraryThing.com, Marsha Mellow

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Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Patricia Engelprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
Castillo, Inés delFortællermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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Oprindelig udgivelsesdato
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Vigtige steder
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Mi patria es la tierra.
---Arturo Salcedo Martinez, Sentido de Patria
Diasporism is my mode.
---R. B. Kitaj, First Diasporist Manifesto
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For my parents and my brother
Første ord
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It was her idea to tie up the nun.
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Talia considered how people who do horrible things can be victims, and how victims can be people who do horrible things.
Only women knew the strength it took to love men  through their evolution to who they thought they were supposed to be.
Real love, her mother once told her, was proven only by endurance.
During the.years Elena and Mauro contemplated staying in the country and the threat of being caught and sent back, they thought only of their lives lived here or lived there, not a fractured in-between. It never occurred to them their family could be split as if by an ax.
It had been Mauro's idea to leave. Elena only followed.
How odd that in the end it was he who returned home and she who stayed.
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