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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

The Armchair Traveler


My criteria for determining which country a book falls in is sometimes subjective.
  • For books set in only one location, that country becomes the chosen setting in the list below.
  • If, instead, a book is set in multiple locations, then the primary location or culture of the book decides its setting below. For instance, Maus is located in Poland, Czechslovakia, and the US, but the primary feel of the book is Polish because that's the nationality of Art's father, plus Poland is where Auschwitz is.
  • When a location is not explicitly mentioned, I look for the culture described in the book. Sometimes, the location is obvious, but sometimes, as in Sunbolt, it is not. In this case, I make a guess about where I think the book is likely located. Sunbolt had a very Middle Eastern feel about it.
  • If all the above fails, I go by the author's nationality or heritage, which can be two different countries. I pick the heritage if the book is about that heritage, otherwise I pick the nationality.
  • For books about immigrant experiences, I tend to prefer the adopted country because most immigrant stories are about adapting to a new country. (Plus, immigrant experiences enrich the new country more than it does the old one.) Very rarely, an immigrant experience dwells mostly on the old country - say, when the protagonist is trying to explore his/her ancestry or heritage or when certain family members refuse to adapt to the new country. In this case, I may prefer the old country, but this will depend on the book. 
(The above is subject to change as I read more books and discover new criteria or find limitations in the above criteria.)

Also, books set in USA and UK are not included in the below lists.


Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin

Child of Dandelions by Shenaaz Nanji

The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan (Middle East)


The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
In the Sea There Are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda

Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli

Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang
Night of Many Dreams by Gail Tsukiyama (Hong Kong)
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
A Thread of Sky by Deanna Fei

Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman
The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair
In the South by Salman Rushdie
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil
Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Someone Else's Garden by Dipika Rai
The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi
Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi
The Good Daughter by Jasmin Darznik

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto
The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

A House at the Edge of Tears by Vénus Khoury-Ghata

The City Son by Samrat Upadhyay
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

Cross Currents by John Shors

The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb
The Things They Carried by Tim O' Brien
Vietnamerica by GB Tran

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie (Middle East)
Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani (Middle East)


The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky

French Polynesia
Frangipani by Célestine Vaite (Tahiti)

New Guinea
Lost in Shangri-La byMitchell Zuckoff


Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

Far to Go by Alison Pick

The Dinner by Herman Koch
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

13 rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro
French Milk by Lucy Knisley
Lucille by Ludovic Debeurme
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
The Silent Land by Graham Joyce

Dance Lessons by Áine Greaney
Haunted Ground by Erin Hart
Room by Emma Donoghue

Inferno by Dan Brown

Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli
Night by Elie Wiesel

Blindness by José Saramago
The Elephant's Journey by José Saramago

City of Thieves by David Benioff

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman

How to be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman (Scandinavia)


Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel
Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens
Planning to Live by Heather Wardell
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki

Dominican Republic
Yo! By Julia Alvarez


A Thousand Lives by Julia Scheeres

The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (Amazon rainforest)


reena said…
Nice to read your article! I am looking forward to sharing your experience.
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