American Visa (Paperback)

American Visa By Juan de Recacoechea, Adrian Althoff (Translated by) Cover Image
By Juan de Recacoechea, Adrian Althoff (Translated by)
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Bolivia’s #1 novel is finally translated into English. Translated by Adrian Althoff, with an afterword by Ilan Stavans.

American Visa, the best-selling novel in Bolivian history, relates the harrowing and hilarious adventures Mario Alvarez endures in his quest to get a visa so he can visit his son in Miami.” —Boston Globe

“Quite possibly Bolivia’s baddest-ass book . . . Ironic that Juan de Recacoechea’s protagonist spends all his time trying to get to America, when it is we who should be getting to Juan de Recacoechea.” —Miami Sun-Post

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.

About the Author

JUAN DE RECACOECHEA (1935-2017) 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 and dedicated himself to fiction writing. He's the author of the novels American Visa, which won Bolivia’s National Book Prize and was adapted into an award-winning film, and Andean Express. Both American Visa and Andean Express were translated into English and published by Akashic Books.

Adrian Althoff is a freelance journalist and translator.

Praise For…

American Visa, which won Bolivia’s National Book Prize in 1994 and was made into a movie in 2005, is both dark and quirky, a revealing excursion to a place over which ‘the gringos’ to the north always loom.

— New York Times Book Review

The narrator of this sweet noir claims to have read Raymond Chandler, Chester Himes, Dashiell Hammett and Manuel Vazquez Montalban ‘as if they were prophets,’ and their presiding spirits are not far from this winning tale . . . An intriguing window onto a society on the fringes of globalization.
— Publishers Weekly

A best-seller in its own country, this novel about a man desperate to get into America is one of the few Bolivian novels translated into English, and especially with the present furor about immigration, it is sure to spark interest . . . De Recacoechea celebrates the hybrid in ethnicity and culture, and he does it without reverence or even respect, blending absurdity with harsh realism to tell a surprising story of roots and finding home.
— Booklist

The story reads like a great detective novel, filled with nail-biting twists in the plot when you least expect them . . . The characters are well-developed and the settings in Bolivia are painted beautifully, allowing you to immerse yourself in the town that Mario so wants to escape.
— Ink19

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
Product Details
ISBN: 9781933354200
ISBN-10: 1933354208
Publisher: Akashic Books, Ltd.
Publication Date: April 1st, 2007
Pages: 264
Language: English