The Fitful Sleep of Immigrants

Award-winning author and immigration attorney Orlando Ortega-Medina returns to 1990s San Francisco in The Fitful Sleep of Immigrants, a powerful family drama that plays out within a captivating legal thriller.

Attorney Marc Mendes, the estranged son of a prominent rabbi and a burned-out lawyer with addiction issues, plots his exit from the big city to a more peaceful life in idyllic Napa Valley. But before he can realize his dream, the US government summons his Salvadoran life-partner Isaac Perez to immigration court, threatening him with deportation.

As Marc battles to save Isaac, his world is further upended by a dark and alluring client who aims to tempt him away from his messy life. Torn between his commitment to Isaac and the pain-numbing escapism offered by his client, Marc is forced to choose between the lesser of two evils while confronting his twin demons of past addiction and guilt over the death of his first lover.

Inspired by events that forced the author and his partner to emigrate from the United States due to marriage inequality, The Fitful Sleep of Immigrants is an extraordinary and timely tale about the value of family and friendship, loyalty and love, in the face of adversity.

* * * * *


‘…a potent legal thriller that doesn’t shy away from major personal and societal issues.’ Los Angeles Times

‘Full of twists and turns, this novel explores the inhumanity found in immigration law and the true meaning of loyalty.’Today

‘An exposé of the cruelties of immigration law; a meditation on family and homeland.’ Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

‘Heartfelt’ —Publishers Weekly

‘Stuffed with romantic melodrama, sex, seduction, and the serpentine politics of immigration, this novel is a tantalizing morsel.’ Bay Area Reporter

‘[A] charged psychological novel in which a lawyer navigates the crossroads of his past, present, and future.’ Foreword Reviews

‘A noteworthy novel that will have resonance for many readers.’ Out In Print

‘Orlando Ortega-Medina’s riveting novel The Fitful Sleep of Immigrants wears its politics on its sleeve…In novelising his advocacy for equal rights, Ortega-Medina follows a long tradition in American literature.’ Bookanista

‘The Fitful Sleep of Immigrants shows that what we thoughts was great fiction from the author previously was but an alright opening serve.  This latest work has raised the bar significantly.’The Worm Hole

* * * * *

Advance Praise

‘Orlando Ortega-Medina has written a compelling novel set within fraught familial, religious, legal and romantic realities of gay love.’ —Rabbi Steven Greenberg, author of Wrestling with God & Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition

‘There’s plenty of drama inside and outside the courtroom…plus stalking and 90s homophobia–in this deeply moving novel with depth and heart that explores how difficult it is to find a place called home in a world filled with hate.’ —Lev Raphael, author of Winter Eyes

‘The thrills in this legal thriller come not only from its plot but also from its rich portrait of the varieties of American estrangement.’ Michael Lowenthal, author of Sex with Strangers

‘Orlando Ortega-Medina’s The Fitful Sleep of Immigrants is equal parts love story, legal thriller, and social commentary that powerfully—and seamlessly—weaves together disparate narratives to produce a provocative, big-hearted page-turner of a novel. All the while, the author does not shy away from big issues such as homophobia, our broken immigration system, parental disapproval, and religious heritage. But at the center of this book is one person’s search for love and meaning. The result is a story that will intrigue and move readers with its eloquence and humanity. What a triumph!’ Daniel A. Olivas, author of How to Date a Flying Mexican: New and Collected Stories

The Fitful Sleep of Immigrants is a drama-packed legal thriller and a love story about the everyday pressures that immigration uncertainty can put on a long-term relationship. Marc and Isaac seem like the couple who have it all: a comfy home, good jobs, and a relationship that has become a refuge from past trauma. But when a troubled client gets under Marc’s skin, the couple’s security starts to fray. As secrets are revealed and commitments are broken, Orlando Ortega-Medina’s breathless storytelling will keep you turning the pages, wondering if this love can last.’ — K.M. Soehnlein, author of Army of Lovers

‘Ortega-Medina’s novel is a quiet thriller, simmering with tension, a story of exile in which the most haunted fugitive turns out to be the man on the run from himself’ —Hilary Zaid, author of Paper is White and Forget I Told You This

Powerful, absorbing, and compelling storytelling with injustice and humanity at its heart. These characters will stay with you…’ —Helen Lederer, comedian, actress (AbFab), and author of Losing It

‘Compelling and important…’ —Thomas Mogford, author of the Spike Sanguinetti crime series

‘[A] brilliantly crafted, gripping tale of love, loyalty, seduction, and deceit, which is both a page-turning thriller, and a universal story of compassion and human survival.’ —Adam Price Ph.D., author of “The Unmotivated Teen” (Psychology Today) and He’s Not Lazy: Empowering Your Son to Believe in Himself

‘More than just a top-tier legal thriller, Orlando Ortega-Medina’s The Fitful Sleep of Immigrants is a human story infused with a strong undercurrent of love and empathy that quickens the pulse, squeezes the heart, and carries the reader along to the last page.’ Brett Marie, author of The Upsetter Blog

* * * * *

Publisher: Amble Press / Bywater Books
Author: Orlando Ortega-Medina
Publication Date: April 18, 2023
ISBN: 9781612942636