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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel | Thoughts

   Published : 2021   ||    Format : print   ||    Location : Colombia ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆   What was it about the 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.. Thoughts : Infinite Country follows two characters - young Talia, who at the beginning of this book, escapes a girl’s reform school in North Colombia so that she can make her previously booked flight to the US. Before she can do that, she needs to travel many miles to reach her father and get her ticket to the rest of her family. As we follow Talia’s treacherous journey south, we learn about how she ended up in the reform school in the first place and why half her family resides in the US. Infinite Country tells the story of her family through the other protagonist, El

Indie Lit Awards winners

On Monday, the winners of the 2011 Indie Lit Awards were announced. Finally, I can discuss the books with you! In the Fiction category, Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones took the cake while Dance Lessons by Aine Greaney was the runner-up, both books I enjoyed tremendously. Another nominee, The Night Circus, was also a huge favorite of mine.

I did have a really tough time deciding between these three. Night Circus was beautiful - the imagery was vivid, the magic was clever, the plot was thrilling. But the characters aren't part of its strengths at all. Still, when I closed the book finally, I knew it was going to be one of my favorite books, even with its faults.

Silver Sparrow was more grounded in reality. The first thought that comes to mind when I think of this book is its strong characters. They were flawed, yet very human, and not at all stereotypical. Even the plot was intriguing. Unfortunately, the ending tripped for me. It was somewhat unsatisfying.

Dance Lessons is what I would like to call the underdog of this competition. I had heard of all the other books in the shortlist before they were nominated. Dance Lessons was the lone stranger, and its synopsis, cover and title didn't interest me at all. But the book was wonderful. Most of the characters were well-etched (there were still a couple that bugged me), the plot was interesting, but here again, I found some things not making sense.

In the end, it was Silver Sparrow's literary merit that won out for me, and I was glad when it won the award in Fiction category. There were two other books in the shortlist that didn't leave me feeling enthusiastic. Cross Currents by John Shors started off well, but the pacing really disappointed me. None of the characters left an impression on me and the ending felt more filmy that realistic. The biggest disappointment, however, was The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene. It took me a long time and some dedicated scheduling to read this book - it might do better as a movie, because it had some aspects that would make it great for the screen but the book didn't appeal to me.

Now that the winners have been announced, I'm eager to read the top books in the other categories. I haven't read any of them, except for one book.

Winner: Little Princes by Conor Grennan
Runner-Up: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

Winner: Nina Here Nor There: My Journey Beyond Gender by Nick Krieger
Runner-Up: Huntress by Malinda Lo

Winner: A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
Runner-Up: Fun and Games by Duane Swierczynski

Winner: Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff
Runner-Up: Berlin 1961 by Frederick Kempe

Winner: Catalina by Laurie Soriano
Runner-Up: What Looks Like an Elephant by Edward Nudelman

Speculative Fiction
Winner: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (one of my favorites from last year!)
Runner-Up: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness


bermudaonion (Kathy) said…
Thanks for your thoughts on the books in your category.  I've read three of the winners and, oddly enough, I've read both of the speculative fiction winners.
Helen Murdoch said…
It must have been so much fun to be on the committee and to have a book you really enjoyed win! Great list all around
Russell Smith said…
I am confused (not unusual in of itself)  as to why they are independent.  Maybe it is supposed to be really obvious, but I looked at their "about" page and saw that they emphasised literary, but I didn't catch what exactly was meant by independent.  Sorrry for being obtuse.
Books in the City (Colleen) said…
I am so happy to see Dance Lessons getting recognition - it was on my top 10 last year.  It was fun to be part of the memoir/bio committee this year -the books were actually very  different from each other so it was challenging to compare them but we did land on a ranking in the end. 
Juju at Tales of said…
You make Silver Sparrow sound sooo good. 
zibilee said…
I just got Silver Sparrow, and really want to get the time to read it. It sounds like such a complex story, and also very literary, which I like. I will be curious about how the ending goes for me after reading your thoughts on it.
Ti said…
I am anxious to read Silver Sparrow and Dance Lessons. Both of which I never even heard of prior to them being nominated.