“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.