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Country of Under
by Brooke Shaffner

publication date: August 13, 2024


softcover, $25
(ISBN: 978-1-952897-41-2)




Country of Under, winner of the 1729 Book Prize at Mason Jar Press, revolves around the transformative friendship of Pilar Salomé Reinfeld, raised by her undocumented father, a descendent of Bolivian Mennonites, in a Mexican-American community; and Carlos/Carla/Río Gomez, a gender-fluid DREAMer raised by their grandmother in the same Texican bordertown.

After years away, tragedy calls them back to the Rio Grande Valley— their lives changed but still bound. Still mourning, Pilar returns to New York City with Río. As Río finds love and Pilar struggles to find a way forward, they drift apart. When Pilar’s decision to engage in a dangerous artivist act finally threatens to tear them apart, they struggle to do what they have done in their best moments: see the beauty in each other, even when the world does not.

Praise for Country of Under:

"This luminous novel of big heart and span is a wonder. I am changed for having read it. The story has become part of my soul."
Diane Zinna, author of The All-Night Sun

"At its core, Country of Under is about time: The time it takes to understand oneself, others, the family you have—and the family you make. And, the time it takes to develop the patience to wait, as self-revelation unfolds."
Barbara Fischkin, author of Muddy Cup: A Dominican Family Comes of Age in a New America


"Brooke Shaffner's Country of Under is a novel about the pain and wonder of being between identities. Between male and female. Citizen and immigrant. Fulfilled and empty. Outsider and insider. A novel of our time, told with deep compassion and striking beauty."

Helen Benedict, author of The Good Deed and Wolf Season

Brooke Shaffner’s novel Country of Under won a Next Generation Indie Book Award Grand Prize for Fiction and the 1729 Book Prize. The novel was the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction runner-up and was shortlisted for Dzanc Books’ Prize for Fiction and Black Lawrence Press’s Big Moose Prize. Brooke’s work has appeared in Scoundrel Time, The Rumpus, The Hudson Review, Marie Claire, BOMB, Litmosphere, Lost and Found: Stories from New York, Necessary Fiction, and Big Indie Books. She has received grants from the Arts & Science Council, United States Artists, and the Saltonstall Foundation and residencies from MacDowell, Ucross, Saltonstall, the Edward Albee Foundation, Jentel, I-Park, and VCCA. Brooke is bisexual and grew up part Garza, part Shaffner in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley. Her Garza grandfather was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico; her Shaffner grandfather was raised Mennonite. Brooke founded Freedom Tunnel Press with her partner Niteesh Elias to publish artivist books that straddle borders. An excerpt of her memoir-in-progress won the Lit/South Award and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Find more at

lost found SLP imprint logo.jpg

—part of our Lost/Found imprint—

Country of Under by Brooke Shaffner

originally published by Mason Jar Press in April 2024 and republished with Split/Lip Press in August 2024

—winner of the 1729 Book Prize
—winner of the First Novel over 90,000 Words Award, Next Generation Indie Book Awards
—runner-up for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction
—second place Fiction Grand Prize winner, Next Generation Indie Book Awards

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