RaveThe New York TimesThough many of its elements are familiar to the point of being worn out — saloons and wagon trains, Indians and gold prospectors — the novel is not ... The rebuilt mechanism is his own design, and it moves in unexpected directions: west to east, around in circles, down into the earth, and north to Alaska ... Håkan starves and thirsts. He survives and grows, in sorrowful wisdom and, inexplicably, to colossal size. And though he murders and maims and becomes a notorious outlaw, he is disgusted, and ultimately shattered, by his violence ... What [Diaz] concocted is strange and transporting, a story that approaches but never enters the realm of magical realism ... It’s a weirdness to which a reader willingly submits, because of the vigorous beauty of his words and his ability to keep Håkan’s bizarre adventures somewhere within sight of possibility ... An affecting oddness is the great virtue of In the Distance, along with its wrenching evocations of its main character’s loneliness and grief. And its ability to create lustrous mindscapes from wide-open spaces, from voids that are never empty.
MixedThe New York Times Book Review\"As Cantú tells us what he learned, he bolsters his point — that it’s hard to comprehend the border from books. This one challenges the reader to find the meaning, or some sense, in its loosely strung episodes, fragmentary encounters with border crossers and agents, clippings from books Cantú has read and the surreal dreams that haunt his fretful nights … Cantú recounts moments of tender connection with frightened, injured border crossers. But he seems unwilling to look too closely at his complicity in despicable behavior … The last third of the book, as José and his family desperately fight his deportation, with Cantú’s considerable help, makes a useful contribution to the literature of today’s border. It lays bare, in damning light, the casual brutality of the system, how unjust laws and private prisons and a militarized border have shattered families and mocked America’s myths about itself.\