Posted by: koolwine | April 11, 2010

Paraguay: The News from Paraguay

Country: Paraguay

Local Name: Tetã Paraguái in the native Guaraní language, which translates to “The Republic of Paraguay”.  The Guaraní word  Paraguái means “place of great water”.

Guaraní is one of the official languages of Paraguay, and is the only indigenous language in the Americas that is regularly spoken by non-indigenous people.

Title: The News from Paraguay

Author: Lily Tuck (American)

Published: 2004   Pages: 248

Acclaim: Winner of the National Book Award

Time Period: 1854-1875

Summary: Irishwoman Ella Lynch abandons her life as a courtesan in Paris to follow her new lover, the future Paraguayan Dictator Francisco Solano Lopez, to his homeland. Clever, charming and athletic, Lynch wields considerable influence over Lopez while he wages a relentless and brutal war against the “Triple Alliance” of  Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

My opinion: Fascinating.  Tuck’s historical novel presents a gradual unfolding of one of the most important events in Paraguayan history.  Precise and intelligent prose.

In my book (or, what Paraguay has meant to me and maybe you, too):

One of the characters in Tuck’s book says, “In fact nothing about Paraguay is known outside the country…”

And that’s my excuse for why I could only come up with these two feeble connections to Paraguay:

1) A few years ago, I started drinking yerba mate, which is the beverage of choice for Paraguayans. This caffeinated drink is brewed from the leaves of the yerba mate plant.

Traditionally, Paraguayans drank mate out of gourd through a metal straw called a bombilla.  I drink Celestial Seasons Morning Thunder (mate mixed with black tea) out of a coffee mug (no straw).

2)  I own a pair of Chaco sandals.  Chaco (meaning “hunting grounds”) is Paraguay’s wild west,  separated from the eastern part of the country by the Paraguay River.  Nicknamed “the green hell,” its harsh climate and terrain*  have kept 98% of Paraguayans living on the other side of the river.

*doesn’t sound like a good place to wear sandals!**

**Most likely, the brand name Chaco refers to Chaco Canyon in New Mexico.



  1. I didn’t know you were a mate drinker! I do mate with a gourd and bombilla daily at work. It’s the best way to avoid the 3pm slump!


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