This self-published title represents an auspicious start for a young Venezuelan debutant in fiction. Written in the first person in short diary-style chapters, this interesting novel is based mostly on the author's and other immigrants' experiences during his peregrinations from Caracas, Venezuela, to Denver, Colorado, and Athens, Greece. It is also a three-decade journey of self-discovery focusing on love and marriage, family life, religion, politics, culture, immigration, education, job finding issues, and an unanswered quo vadis at the end.
The book's captivating narration, interwoven with numerous quotations from famous people, reflects honesty; keen observations; warm feelings for the underprivileged; dedication to the fight for justice; an awareness of the positive and negative aspects of Venezuela, the United States, and Greece; and the author's fine sense of humor. Even though, in his words, "it is obvious that hispanics are not exactly the icing of the cake" in America, [the book's main character] nevertheless confesses his love for "my dear United States" after he left it. This is probably why this book was first published in English, to be followed by a Spanish language text much later. The volume is recommended for teenagers and adults alike, and, of course, as a suitable item for ethnic studies programs.
Vladimir F. Wertsman (New York Public Library)
Published by: MultiCultural Review Magazine (Vol.18, #2 Summer 2009) (Lutz, FL, USA)
"Reminds me of Oscar Wilde"
I truly enjoyed A. A. Alvarez’s style ! It’s refreshing, p...owerful, and full of humour and wit!
He’s a good thinker who makes original observations about people, school, politics and life in general. And he’s quite a comedian too! A very sharp-minded individual indeed.
Chronicles of a Nomad is certainly a story that’s applicable to a wide audience, as it inspires readers get out of their lethargy and think.
I particularly loved the characters. Carlos is indeed memorable in every sense (reminded me of Tom Sawyer). The school chapters, especially when he takes over the class, are wonderful and brought back long-forgotten memories from when I was a student. And his mother was hilarious. The way he described her behaviour at the airport was brilliant, as was the way he described how she talked about hypocrites at the dinner table. Yet another highlight in the story. So funny!
So many little details intrigued me that at times I felt as if we had grown up in similar circumstances, and boy, did we grow up in different environments! I was a shy country boy from Arcadia, a calm and poor country town in Greece, and I immigrated to Chicago in the early 60’s. He was an outspoken city boy from a well-to-do family in a busy city like Caracas, and immigrated to Denver in the late 90’s. Yet, the sheer amount of similarities in our stories gave me goose bumps time and again.
His days as a student in Denver were most touching to me, and the Greek part of his story, where he makes his observations about the cafés of Athens, the Greek winter, and above all, YAYA and her “avalanche of requests”, was delightful. Alvarez is a keen observer of social behaviour. He was right on the money when he spoke of the Greeks and also when he highlighted their knowledge of geography (it was my favourite subject in fifth grade).
Out of all the quotes by famous personalities at the beginning of every chapter, those written by A. A. Alvarez himself were the most creative. He reminded me of one of my favourite writers: Oscar Wilde!
In a nutshell, Chronicles of a Nomad: Memoirs of an Immigrant, is a read you can’t miss. Alvarez is truly a gifted writer and world will expect a whole lot from him.
Nicholas D. Kokonis, Ph.D. (Chicago, USA)
(Award Winning Author)
"A Fine Story"
It's hard to find a country to call home. "Chronicles of a
Nomad: Memoirs of an Immigrant" tells the story of Carlos Rodriguez,
as he travels the world to find a place he can truly call home.
Born in Venezuela, he leaves for the United States, eventually finds
himself in Greece, and realizes that home is a place that exists
only in our hearts, not necessarily in our countries. Witty and
wise, "Chronicles of a Nomad" is a fine story of some
people who could classify their nationality as citizen of the world.
Midwest Book Review (Oregon, Wisconsin, USA)
Chronicles of a Nomad: Memoirs of an Immigrant is
a thought provoking, eye-opening novel told from the perspective
of a young, intelligent immigrant named Carlos Rodriguez. He is
a brutally honest voice searching for a chance at a better life.
We travel with Rodriguez from Venezuela to the United States, and
finally to Greece. And throughout Rodriguez's quest, he remains
undaunted even when faced with innumerable, and seemingly insurmountable,
setbacks and pitfalls.
The author manages to tell a tale that is universal, and does so
with a refreshing style that is often humorous and ironical. Whether
you are an immigrant crossing a border hoping to find a better life,
or a citizen of a well developed country sitting in an armchair
with a glass of good wine, you are able to relate to Rodriquez's
quest for a life without borders.
Hats off to A. A. Alvarez for a wonderful novel.
David J. Horn
A truly heartfelt experience full of realism, emotion,
and overall, humanity. What is most impactful is the author's
honesty and depiction of his own life perspectives after experiencing
a barrage of improbable situations. It was a joy to experience such
rich variety of characters whose strong emotional charge only enhanced
the story's perfect synergy of ideology, reflection, humility,
bravery, and humor.
I am touched by the way the author represents the multiplicity of experiences of today's citizens of the world and how he portrays the choices some of us make. As an immigrant, I fully empathize with those realities, but most of all I am grateful to be reminded of the separation, the price, and the analysis of what it means to live in exile.
To relive Venezuela's recent history through the author's most intimate memories shook my core, forcing me to moments of silence and sorrow. Also, the parallels with global and collective dynamics are a gift this story offers, making it both contemporary and very familiar.
Victoria Gómez (Denver, Colorado, USA)
"Should Be Mandatory Reading"
Chronicles of a Nomad is the story of Carlos Rodriguez, an intellectual young man that is also an immigrant. He had a comfortable childhood in Venezuela. The weakening state of his country caused him to move to Colorado. He over stayed his visa. After a few years he is forced to move to Greece.
This book is told from the point of view of the author. I like him. I felt as if I was reading his personal diary. He's witty and honest.
This book challenged my opinions. Most Americans see illegal immigrants as poor, desperate and often criminals. The desperate part is true but many immigrants come to the US looking for peace from the unrest in their country. The author is very intelligent. He was not from an extremely poor family. He's certainly not a criminal. Where do we draw the line? How do we draw the line? Do we allow anyone to come and go at will?
I was reminded that home is in the heart.
CHRONICLES OF A NOMAD is a work of fiction that is inspired by a true story.
Carlos was born in Venezuela and shares his experiences and memories growing up. He is an extremely intelligent boy who attended both private and public schools. He was often labeled mischievous, curious, and, sometimes, a troublemaker.
His country dealt with times of turmoil and Carlos enters the United States on a tourist visa. There are many adjustments to make dealing with life in America and attending high school, yet Carlos never gives up. Each step he takes gets him closer to a dream.
This is an inspirational story of a young man's journey to find his place. The road he travels is long and full of obstacles, but he sets sights on what he wants and conquers each step.
The story will be enjoyed by teens as well as adults, as it provides a close look at the immigration process through a young man's eyes.
Laurie [aka. hoopsielv] (Bloomington, IL, USA)
I am a staunch supporter of sending all illegal immigrants home. There is a legal way of entering [the United States] and we are not going to be able to handle many more illegal immigrants. With that said, Alvarez tells of the difficulty of becoming a legal citizen.
Perhaps more interesting, he tells of life in his homeland of Venezuela. His parents interested me with their good and bad qualities. They have a sense of character one can only have when they have experienced one hard time after another. Alvarez's willingness to work and value of education is something all Americans should learn from.
Though my thoughts on illegal immigration still have not changed, I am a bit more empathetic. Alvarez writes in an entertaining, quirky style that is conversational. This is based on his life as an immigrant and the stories of other immigrants. Seeing America through his eyes will give you a sense of patriotism. From air-conditioned schools and free refills to the use of signal lights, Alvarez shares the small amazements of America.
Stephanie Rollins (Hawesville, Kentucky, USA)
"A Touching Story Filled Emotion"
I loved this book... the way Carlos, the main character, is constantly growing as a person and the very special way he shares everything with you will certainly create a strong bond of friendship between you and him. I never had to guess what he was thinking, or what he was feeling... I always knew. At times, it felt as if he was sitting next to me, telling me the story himself.
As he develops, you clearly see how he begins to mature and how not only his decisions, but also his actions, accurately reflect his personal growth. Even though this book is labeled as an immigration story, it gives a lot of emphasis to how our actions are deeply connected to the way we were raised, and how obstacles are only there to test how much we really want things in life.
Carlos also falls in love, and the romantic part of the book was certainly one of my favorites. From the very beginning to the very end of the book, he is always open about all subjects, but the way in which he describes his feelings for his childhood sweetheart is particularly cute. You can't help it but to feel his love, his sadness, his joys and frustrations, and to grow attached to him every step of the way in a very intimate way.
Amazon Customer Review
"A New Perspective"
How wonderful to read a good book and be able to get in touch with the author so easily! I found out about "Chronicles of a Nomad" through the Latinos Globales network and I knew right away that I had to read it.
The reason I got it was because it tackles the common assumption that all immigrants were poor before they came to the United States. And though this is true in many cases, I wasn't poor when I immigrated, and neither was Carlos, the main character in this novel.
The alarming situation in Venezuela during this past couple of decades, not just because of its decaying economy but also because of its heavy social unrest and political instability, has been the moving cause behind the now constant exodus of well-prepared Venezuelans. As a fellow expatriate, I feel very well represented by this book.
The story highlights the importance of childhood, and how our actions as adults are so strongly influenced by the way we were raised and by the environment in which we grew up. You can feel the author's personal touch word by word and his passionate narrative makes you care for everyone in the story.
The touching way in which he describes his adolescent love was also very captivating, and not surprisingly, it was the part I liked the most. I'm recommending this book to my all friends!
Maria Feeney (Newport, Rhode Island, USA)
Amazon Customer Review
"A beautifully-crafted novel written from the heart"
It's curious that the experiences of Carlos could share so many similarities with my own.
A few weeks have passed since I finished this book and the memory of it has yet to leave my mind. At first glance it may seem pretty straight-forward, but it's quite insightful.
You can feel the author's energy in every chapter as he shares joy, anger, pain and love, and it's also pretty hilarious how he describes situations in which any normal person would go completely mad.
For a book that's about immigration, I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of detail that was given to the political climate in Venezuela during the pre-Chavez era. We also see a little of the contrast with how the country looks today. There are chapters about the downturn of the government in the late 80's and early 90's and the failed coup d'états of 1992 where Chavez made his first appearance. However, they're told from the perspective of a young kid who is simply trying to understand what is going on, so they're free from annoying propagandistic remarks. All he wants is to have a fair shot at life, and he takes it when he immigrates to the "land of the free... refills" as he called it. The USA was heaven on earth from what he was accustomed to, but still, the phantom of the past begins to haunt him in both the waking world and the dream world either as an unfinished romance with his teenage love or as nightmares in which he never actually left home.
Even though Carlos was always a smart kid, it's not until he leaves his country that he really begins to mature and starts to become the person he wants to be. At first, his goals were in the United States, but then fate took him to Greece and by the end of the book, he's once again on the move, as he realizes that he is both a nomad and a citizen of the world.
Chronicles of a Nomad is a beautifully-crafted novel written from the heart by a real immigrant who left his homeland to find his true self abroad. With this story, Alvarez manages to inspire us to come out of our shells and live life at its fullest. This is a book for citizens of the world and for those who aspire to become one.
Maria D. (Miami, FL)
Amazon Customer Review
"A Captivating Read"
Rarely does a book truly capture the contradictions within character, but this book does and it does it well. You follow Carlos, through a surprisingly full yet young life.Through rich and poor, through the arrogance of youth and the humility and experience that life provides. Friendship, love, culture... this book has it all and you won't be disappointed. While it may be true that this books main focus is that of an immigrant, it somehow still rings true to the most static of us all. If you truly believe we are more than the sum of our parts (and even if you don't) this is the book for you.
An A-class read!!!
Amazon Customer Review
"You CANNOT miss this book!"
Reading "Chronicles of a Nomad" was so great to me. I was an immigrant myself for a while and I also spent some time in the US and Europe (but in the opposite order as the story tells). I had exactly the same feelings and fears, and while reading I caught myself looking again some of my pictures, rewatching some videos... I felt I was back to the rush of doing it all again! There's no high like the US Immigration line! I guess I have lots in common with the author, as I'm a Latin American (but from Brazil) and I decided to also write about my experience (but academically - I research Immigration). It's one of the best stories about immigration I have ever found! And more! It's about cultural challenges, language barriers and the ethernal desire to have a better life. You CANNOT miss this book!
Luciano Viana (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil)
Amazon Customer Review
"A Must Read!"
Chronicles Of A Nomad "COAN" is a wonderful story about courage when facing the dilemma of having to make tough, life-changing decisions in the midst of political turmoil. It is also an inspirational handbook on never giving up on one's dreams and hopes for a better future. It combines the elements of a Venezuelan soap-opera plot: family origins, relationships, romance, adventure, suspense, drama, comedy, etc. The story develops quite interestingly and amusingly. It is very well documented within a chronological capsule that provides a historical account of some of the major events that closed the twentieth century and gave birth to the twenty-first tentury. A must read to all Venezuelan immigrants and expatriates. Highly recommended to those already here (in the U.S., Europe, elsewhere) and to those who are considering it.
Samuel M. Ocean
Amazon Customer Review
Chronicles of a Nomad, by A. A. Alvarez, is an interesting novel that presents the ups and downs of a young Latin American emigrant in a different way: full of warmth, good humor, adventure, irony, sometimes sadness, love, and hope. The language is pretty much accesible to every age, class, and culture. While other books generally deal with the topic of immigration from the social, political, legal or economical perspective, this book does it in a much more refreshing way, using the first-hand experiences of real immigrants to give us a different insight into what means to be a young immigrant in today's world, without any grief or sorrow, but admiration for what strong souls and minds can achieve.
A highly recommended work for anyone willing to spend their valuable time in a worthy way.
M. Scarpitta (Nottingham, UK)
Amazon Customer Review
"A great novel, a serious topic and a bit of fun!"
I'm not the most dedicated reader around, but a friend recommended this book to me and I must confess this novel kept me reading to the last page.
The author touches several serious topics, like immigration problems and how some people go through the process, as well as the difficulties they face.
But quite surprisingly, the characters also happen to experience a lot of funny and unusual things. You have to love that touch of irony in some of these situations.
If you're looking to spend a good time in front of a book, and learn something in the process, this is a great option for you. You won't be disappointed.
Luis Eduardo (Valencia, Spain)
Amazon Customer Review
Alvarez's book is a very personal account of his life in Venezuela, the States and Greece.
It's both witty and informative, full of clever observation and soul-searching analysis. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a contemporary novel with insights on life as a 21st century immigrant, or just a great, easy read.
Alkiviadis Choidas (Athens, Greece)
Amazon Customer Review
"Very enjoyable! The author's way to tell the stories, to express feelings, to describe places... and his sense of humor! Such a wonderful read!"
"Honestly, I usually never take chances on non-bestseller authors but I did this once after reading the synopsis. I have to say that it made me laugh out loud
(and look around to see if anyone saw me). It also made me mist up and it brought back a lot of memories from my own journey. Two thumbs up!"
"If you have ever been an immigrant, you can easily identify yourself with the story.
There are chapters that made me relive my pleasant and not so pleasant childhood memories. I laugh and cry with this book."
"A role model to us all."
"A must read not just for Venezuelans, but for all Latinos abroad!
Through a multitude of events, both cultural and political, this book accurately describes what our generation has been about. Five stars."
"This novel tells the story of a busy kid who became a student, then a tourist, then an immigrant, then an illegal immigrant, and then legal one.
As he grows, he learns that borders can't stop a nomad and that the flags of our countries have little meaning to a citizen of the world. This book is guaranteed to entertain!"
"A beautiful story full of lessons and anecdotes from the very special perspective of a Venezuelan child. A great book for teens and adults alike."