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  • Published: 30 September 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241514719
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

Beautiful Country

A Memoir of An Undocumented Childhood

The New York Times bestselling memoir a girl who learns to live - and then escape - an invisible life

In China she was the daughter of professors. In Brooklyn her family is 'illegal.'

Qian is seven when she moves to America, the 'Beautiful Country', where she and her parents find that the roads of New York City are not paved with gold, but crushing fear and scarcity. Unable to speak English at first, Qian and her parents must work wherever they can to survive, all while she battles hunger and loneliness at school. Thus begins an extraordinary story that describes days labouring in sweatshops and sushi factories, nights scavenging the streets for furniture, and the terrifying moment when the family emerges from the shadows to seek emergency medical treatment for Qian's mother.

Qian Julie Wang's memoir is an unforgettable account of what it means to live under the perpetual threat of deportation and the small joys and sheer determination that kept her family afloat in a new land. Told from a child's perspective, in a voice that is intimate, poignant and startlingly lyrical, Beautiful Country is the story of a girl who learns first to live - and then escape - an invisible life.

  • Published: 30 September 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241514719
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

Praise for Beautiful Country

A story that needs to be heard. Moving, beautiful, heartbreaking and even funny . . . I never wanted it to end

Philippa Perry

A powerful, gripping insight into the world of an undocumented migrant in New York . . . beautifully written, with vivid scenes that linger in the mind long after finishing it

Helena Merriman

Intricate and penetrating . . . a beautiful and hopeful read that also underlines what can truly happen to people who are simply seeking refuge

Stylist, an Unmissable Memoir for Summer 2021

This beautifully expressed memoir of the immigrant experience charts her parents' struggles to survive as "illegals" in New York while their daughter battles hunger and loneliness at school, and is all the more moving for being related from a child's point of view

The Bookseller, Editor's Choice

A vital and unforgettable read


Deeply compelling . . . I was moved by the love and resilience of this family thrust into darkness. The book casts an urgent light on a reality that extends way beyond America's borders

Hisham Matar, author of The Return

Astonishing . . . In restrained but beautiful prose, Wang honours her family's sacrifices, but alerts us to the urgent realisation that they should not be necessary

Nesrine Malik

Consider this remarkable memoir a new classic

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

A potent testament to the love, curiosity, grit, and hope of a courageous and resourceful immigrant child. Engaging readers through all five senses and the heart, Wang's debut memoir is a critical addition to the literature on immigration as well as the timeless category of childhood memoir

Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

Heartrending, unvarnished, and powerfully courageous, this account of growing up undocumented in America will never leave you

Gish Jen, author of The Resisters

Beautiful Country rings with power and authenticity. Wang's searing exploration reveals how she and her family were forced to navigate the yawning cracks in the American Dream. An eloquent, thought-provoking and touching memoir

Jean Kwok, author of Girl in Translation and Searching for Sylvie Lee

Powerful . . . A haunting memoir of people and places that will stay with readers long after the last page

Library Journal

Sharply observed . . . Wang's story leaves the reader wishing that wanting a better future, and working hard for it, wasn't illegal in a country that has been built on the back of immigrants


Heart-wrenching . . . A memoir about resilience and overcoming the odds, about finding the small moments of joys which punctuate even the grimmest of childhoods

Bad Form

A heart-wrenching and intimate account of life under the ever-present threat of deportation

Woman's Own Magazine

The must-read book of 2021

Marie Claire

Now a successful lawyer, Qian is working through her trauma in this book, but it's joyous too, with moments of brightness breaking through even the most trying times

Sunday Times, Books of the Year

Elegantly affecting . . . Qian Julie Wang tells a remarkable story of displacement, heartache and resilience

Guardian, Best Biographies and Memoirs of 2021