Item description for American Visa by Adrian Althoff Juan de Recacoechea...
"American Visa is beautifully written, atmospheric, and stylish in the manner of Chandler . . . a smart, exotic crime fiction offering."-George Pelecanos, author of The Night Gardener
"American Visa is a stunning literary achievement. It is insightful and poignant, a book every thoughtful American should read, and once read, read again."-William Heffernan, Edgar Award-winning author of The Corsican
"In his search for an American visa, the high school teacher in this novel embodies the dreams and aspirations of many would-be immigrants south of the border. This is a thriller with a social conscience, a contemporary noir with lots of humor and flair. The streets of La Paz have never looked so alive. This is one of the best Latin American novels of the last fifteen years." -Edmundo Paz-Soldan, author of Turing's Delirium
"Mario Alvarez is tremendous, an everyman desperate to escape Bolivia's despair who can't elude his own tricks of self-sabotage. At a time when the debate around U.S. immigration reduces many people around the world to caricatures, this singular and provocative portrait of the issue will connect with readers of all political stripes." -Arthur Nersesian, author of Suicide Casanova
Armed with fake papers, a handful of gold nuggets, and a snazzy custom-made suit, an unemployed schoolteacher with a singular passion for detective fiction sets out from small-town Bolivia on a desperate quest for an American visa, his best hope for escaping his painful past and reuniting with his grown son in Miami.
Mario Alvarez's dream of emigration takes a tragicomic twist on the rough streets of La Paz, Bolivia's seat of government. Alvarez embarks on a series of Kafkaesque adventures, crossing paths with a colorful cast of hustlers, social outcasts, and crooked politicians-and initiating a romance with a straight-shooting prostitute named Blanca. Spurred on by his detective fantasies and his own tribulations, he hatches a plan to rob a wealthy gold dealer, a decision that draws him into a web of high-society corruption but also brings him closer than ever to obtaining his ticket to paradise.
Juan de Recacoechea was born in La Paz, Bolivia, and worked as a journalist in Europe for almost twenty years. After returning to his native country, he helped found Bolivia's first state-run television network, served as its general manager, and dedicated himself to fiction writing. Recacoechea is the author of seven novels. American Visa is his first novel to be translated into English.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.9" Width: 6" Height: 0.9" Weight: 0.6 lbs.
Release Date Apr 1, 2007
Publisher Akashic Books
ISBN 1933354208 ISBN13 9781933354200
Reviews - What do customers think about American Visa?
Down and Out in La Paz Nov 28, 2007
The immigrant dream in the era of globalization comes alive in this story of a bumbling Bolivian schoolteacher desperate to get to America. Mario is a divorced middle-aged teacher from the countryside who has to come La Paz to apply for a visa to visit his son in Miami. Of course, his ultimate goal is to create a new life for himself in America, starting with the job his son has lined up for him at an IHOP. The only thing standing in his way is his lack of the titular visa.
Taking a room at a seedy Hotel California (ha ha), he meets several colorful long-term residents, including a hooker with a heart of gold, a former diplomat, a transvestite, and a former professional soccer goalie. Armed with little more than a fancy suit, fake documents (which are meant to convince the American Embassy that he has plenty of property in Bolivia that he would never abandon), a fistfull of dollars, and a few small gold nuggets, his initial foray to the embassy leaves him shaken. His papers are pretty flimsy and he realizes that he'll need to obtain his visa through illicit means. And so begins a roller coaster ride through the seedy and sedate streets of La Paz, in an attempt to finagle a visa.
Fortunately (or rather, unfortunately), the teacher is also an avid reader of American crime fiction, and thus plans a dubious heist in order to raise the money he needs to bribe a shady travel agent to "fast-track" his visa. Those who have read the same American crime fiction as the protagonist will have a pretty good idea how this will all turn out. Meanwhile, he also befriends a stunning member of the aristocracy who gives him a glimpse of the high life, while his hooker friend tries to convince him to stay in Bolivia and move to the countryside with her savings. In any event, Mario's trials and tribulations abound with booze, sex, and plenty of outsize characters. Whether or not he elicits much empathy from the reader probably depends on one's perspective (I found him too foolish and selfish to care about), the story is an undeniably rich journey through the streets of La Paz.