An Introduction to Bolivian Literature in 5 Incredible Authors

| © Gellinger/Pixabay
Harry Stewart

Bolivia has produced many fine authors in its long and turbulent history, almost all of whom came from the nation’s traditional ruling class of European descendants. Despite having a rich storytelling culture, the indigenous underclass has had limited access to education until recent times, meaning their stories remain as oral traditions, rarely being transcribed onto paper. The following is a short biography of five Bolivian authors who have changed the face of Bolivian literature forever.

Edmundo Paz Soldán

Edmundo Paz Soldán

Born in 1967 in the city of Cochabamba, Edmundo Paz Soldán is the most accomplished contemporary Bolivian author, with recognition on both a national and international level. His various novels and short stories were originally written in Spanish, despite him living in the USA for several decades and currently holding a position as a professor of literature at Cornell University in New York state. Some of his better stories, such as the 2007 novel Turing’s Delirium, have been translated into English.

Juan de Recacoechea

Born in La Paz in 1935, Juan de Recacoechea migrated to Paris to study journalism and television production at university. After a decade of living in France, he returned to Bolivia and founded a television station for which he appointed himself the position of CEO. Recacoechea began writing novels in his spare time, eventually becoming famous for his fourth book American Visa, which was later adapted into a successful feature film by the renowned Mexican-Bolivian director Juan Carlos Valdivia.

Franz Tamayo Solares

A renowned but controversial politician, poet, philosopher and writer born in 1879, Franz Tamayo Solares was so influential there is an entire province in the western part of Bolivia bearing his name. Sadly, he held the bigoted point of view that indigenous Bolivians were intellectually inferior, being more suited to laborious industries such as agriculture and military service, whereas those of European descent were more capable of intellectual work. Tamayo was of mixed indigenous and European descent which, according to him, meant he was both physically and mentally adept. This type of racist ideology had a profound impact on Bolivian politics and identity, particularly following the Bolivian revolution of 1952.

Alcides Arguedas

Alcides Argueda

Born in La Paz in 1879, Alcides Argueda is one of Bolivia’s best known writers, penning books that focused on the difficult relationship between European Bolivians and indigenous people. He was praised for a cynical essay he published in 1909 entitled Pueblo Enfermo (Sick People), but it was his novel Raza de bronce (Bronze Roots) that would be fundamental to the development of Bolivian literature, tackling themes such as indigenous oppression, efforts to confront such oppression and the division between indigenous and white or mixed raced Bolivians. This and other critical works made him quite unpopular among Bolivia’s white ruling class. He later gave up writing, preferring to focus on history, politics and diplomacy.

Adela Zamudio

Adela Zamudio

Bolivia’s finest poet and the woman responsible for the nation’s first feminist movement, Adela Zamudio was born to a rich family in Cochabamba in 1854. Under the tuition of her father, she published her first poem at 15 and went on to become the director of a girls’ high school while promoting women’s rights across the nation, something that was unheard of at the time. Zamudio was not religious, instead writing poems of an intellectual nature with romantic undertones that covered issues such as the struggles of Bolivian society, revolution and the rejection of religion and other ideologies. Many of her works were published under the pen name “Soledad” (Solitude), which is reflective of her loneliness and unwillingness to accept societal norms. Thanks to her feminist ideology, her birthday of October 11 has been designated as Bolivian Women’s Day through the nation.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article