Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

Published: 2021 Simon & Schuster Setting: Bogota, Colombia Genre: Literary fiction 1. First lines. 2. Cover Simon & Schuster 3. Bogota landscape [Public Domain] by Random Institute on Unsplash 4. Sadness [Public Domain] by Roxx3162 via Pixabay

After a surge of violence in Colombia in the early 2000s, parents Mauro and Elena leave Bogota with their baby daughter Karina to live in the United States on a temporary visa. Whilst there, they have two more children, Nando and Talia. When the visa expires, the family live in fear of being caught, struggling to earn a living and hoping to apply successfully for permanent residency.

“… maybe there is no nation or citizenry; they’re just territories mapped in place of family, in place of love, the infinite country.”

Quote from “Infinite Country” by Patricia Engel

Glanceabook: Recommended for its insight into the experiences of immigrants to the United States. The writer describes the thoughts, feelings and experiences of the main characters in a way that helps us to empathize with them. Their emotional journey is depicted beautifully. Disconcertingly, in the latter part of the book, Nando and Karina are abruptly given a voice which interrupted the flow of the narrative.

Kirkus: “The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.”

Publishers Weekly: “Engel’s sharp, unflinching narrative teems with insight and dazzles with a confident, slyly sophisticated structure. This is an impressive achievement.”

Washington Post: “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 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.”


“Our family didn’t cross any deserts or rivers to get here. We came by plane with the right documents, now worthless. My life, like my sister’s and brother’s, is a mishap, a side effect of our parents’ botched geographical experiment.”

“In the other country, an uncharted future awaited. But it could only be so if she let her future in this country die.”

“What was it about this country that kept everyone hostage to its fantasy? The previous month, on its own soil, an American man went to his job at a plant and gunned down fourteen coworkers, and last spring alone there were four different school shootings. A nation at war with itself, yet people still spoke of it as some kind of paradise.”

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