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Infinite Country: A Novel av Patricia Engel
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Infinite Country: A Novel (utgåvan 2021)

av Patricia Engel (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
16212129,055 (4.16)7
Medlem:Booklover217
Titel:Infinite Country: A Novel
Författare:Patricia Engel (Författare)
Info:Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster (2021), 208 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:*****
Taggar:Ingen/inga

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Infinite Country av Patricia Engel

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Visa 1-5 av 12 (nästa | visa alla)
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 |
Infinite Country, Patricia Engel, author; Ines del Castillo, narrator
Although the book is about a young couple, Elena and Mauro, from Columbia, who come to America, with their infant daughter, Karina, seeking a better life for all of them, it is really about all undocumented foreigners living in the shadows. While in the country with legitimate visas, Elena and Mauro work hard and send money back home. Then they have two more children, Nando and Talia, even though they are poverty stricken, even though they can barely make ends meet and are living in far worse conditions than they did in their own home, in their own country, even though they know that time is running out and unscrupulous lawyers have taken advantage of them. They are a very loving family. They consider returning to their own country, but their own country is always in turmoil, always violent, always overrun with drug dealers. Faced with the expiration of their visas, they decide to overstay their welcome and to live in the shadows. Although they are quiet, law abiding and hard-working, sometimes they get caught in the web. Soon Mauro is deported and Elena, unaware of it, does not even know she is alone. Neither truly accepts responsibility for their own behavior, rather they resent the behavior of the authorities and also resent the Americans who question their right to be in the country illegally. They begin to wonder what is so great about this place, after all, it is more violent than their own country, which I found debatable, since their own country’s government is riddled with corruption. Still, they stay because life is better here, they can earn more money, and they can hope to become legal; they can hope to stop being seen as an outsider.
I am not heartless. It is truly hard to read this book and feel nothing for the plight of these helpless immigrants stuck in a no-mans land in America. Having arrived in the land of their dreams, they find it is harder to live here than they had anticipated. The noise, the crowds, the hustle and bustle are alien to most of them. They are in constant fear of being attacked or caught, for which they blame the authorities, instead of themselves. After all, although they are suffering, and human suffering is hard to abide, they have knowingly broken the law, made the choice to enter America illegally or stay illegally when their visas expire.
Many do not come for asylum, but rather for economic security. Many are impatient, unwilling or unable to apply for visas through the proper channels. There is a long wait for approval, or they know they will be denied. Most get to America and pray for an administration that will grant them amnesty or protection. They have risked their lives crossing land and water to get to the United States. They go into hiding when they arrive. Their network of friends enables them to find places to live, to get jobs and false papers, but they lead harsh lives here, living hand to mouth in squalid quarters, most of the time in overcrowded accommodations with no privacy or access to good hygiene. Sometimes they take on false husbands in order to get legal status. Other times they wait until the legally born children can sponsor them, although that is years in the future. They do however, quickly learn to work our system.
They work the system better than most Americans. They soon rely on the generosity and sympathy of those that are willing to also disregard the laws of our country. So, although they are breaking the law, and blaming American law enforcement for holding them accountable, the human side of the story will touch the heart of every reader. How can one look at these families just asking for what we take for granted, and not give it to them? All of us have family. All of us would hate to live in fear. All of us would hate to risk being separated, sent to a country we are either no longer familiar with, or not at all familiar with, and which is a place of danger. Still, a country cannot continue to allow anyone to enter without losing its own identity, and, in truth, that seems to slowly be happening in the United States.
Some offer sanctuary to these forgotten and nameless people, to these people who live below the radar in constant fear, as they both, legal and illegal, openly disregard the laws they don’t like. It is hard to condemn either the bleeding hearts or the illegal aliens, undocumented souls or whatever you wish to call them. They are all in the same situation, hopeless and helpless, waiting for a miracle, waiting for the United States government to give them the rights they demand. Most of the time, the fairytale ending in this book is not the reality.
Whether or not one agrees with my assessment is immaterial to the novel. The novel merely concerns itself with the plight of the illegal immigrant, the undocumented aliens, and their story is heartrending. These souls resent the terms used to describe them, they resent the authorities that enforce the immigration laws. Some break our laws with impunity, although entering or remaining in the country illegally is an offense they are all guilty of immediately, and some suffer because of poor choices that are disastrous, sometimes made innocently and sometimes with intent.
For me, even though my heart broke for the family when the husband Mauro was deported, and their family was disrupted and separated, forced into circumstances that often made them the butt of serious abuse, and forced to make decisions to break up their own family, I found the author’s presentation of their plight and separation off-putting. The complaints about the separation of families did not ring true when they openly discussed doing this themselves, and Elena did send her own child back to Columbia, to live with her mother, so they could continue to survive, illegally, in America. However, Talia, was born in America, and she could return if she wanted to, at a later date, when she was older. She would belong to two countries and have more freedom.
They were good people; they only wanted to live free in America, to be respected, not ridiculed. They didn’t want to be white, they wanted their own culture. Although several had criminal records for which they also made excuses, they did work hard, although for less than other workers, making it harder for American citizens to find similar work. They had absolutely no real shame when it came to their dishonesty, when it came to staying in this country. They knew they were breaking the law, but they felt justified in that behavior. They even felt they had the right to protest their treatment, even though they didn’t believe anyone had the right to protest about their dishonesty.
Columbia is a country of contradictions. Good and evil reside in each person, place, job, and politician. Perhaps the same is true about the United States. Does anyone have the right to demand entry into a foreign country? There are not many countries that would say yes to open borders. Still, it is really hard not to finish the book and feel tremendous empathy for the plight of these people who are seeking a better life, sometimes at the expense of the people whose country they invade. It is hard not to wish there was a better way. So, who is worse off, those that are displaced by these undocumented foreigners, or the those “illegals” who hide in plain sight dreaming about a better life?
Who can turn their back on the suffering? While I think the book is unfair in its one-sided depiction, and in the fairy tale way the story works out, my heart hurts when I contemplate the suffering they go through to enjoy what I take for granted. If we continue on this open border policy, however, will what I take for granted continue to exist for me, or will my world forever be altered by the invasion? ( )
  thewanderingjew | Mar 20, 2021 |
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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.
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