Author bio

Julia Alvarez

Julia Alvarez - book author

Julia Alvarez left the Dominican Republic for the United States in 1960 at the age of ten. She is the author of six novels, three books of nonfiction, three collections of poetry, and eleven books for children and young adults. She has taught and mentored writers in schools and communities across America and, until her retirement in 2016, was a writer-in-residence at Middlebury College. Her work has garnered wide recognition, including a Latina Leader Award in Literature from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature, the Woman of the Year by Latina magazine, and inclusion in the New York Public Library’s program “The Hand of the Poet: Original Manuscripts by 100 Masters, from John Donne to Julia Alvarez.” In the Time of the Butterflies, with over one million copies in print, was selected by the National Endowment for the Arts for its national Big Read program, and in 2013 President Obama awarded Alvarez the National Medal of Arts in recognition of her extraordinary storytelling.

Photo copyright by Brandon Cruz González
EL VOCERO DE PUERTO RICO

Julia Alvarez is the author of books: In the Time of the Butterflies, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, Before We Were Free, Yo!, In the Name of Salome, Afterlife, Return to Sender, Saving the World, How Tia Lola Came to (Visit) Stay, A Wedding in Haiti


Author books

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Title
Description
01
Set during the waning days of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic in 1960, this extraordinary novel tells the story of the Mirabal sisters, three young wives and mothers who are assassinated after visiting their jailed husbands.

From the author of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents comes this tale of courage and sisterhood set in the Dominican Republic during the rise of the Trujillo dictatorship. A skillful blend of fact and fiction, In the Time of the Butterflies is inspired by the true story of the three Mirabal sisters who, in 1960, were murdered for their part in an underground plot to overthrow the government. Alvarez breathes life into these historical figures--known as "las mariposas," or "the butterflies," in the underground--as she imagines their teenage years, their gradual involvement with the revolution, and their terror as their dissentience is uncovered.

Alvarez's controlled writing perfectly captures the mounting tension as "the butterflies" near their horrific end. The novel begins with the recollections of Dede, the fourth and surviving sister, who fears abandoning her routines and her husband to join the movement. Alvarez also offers the perspectives of the other sisters: brave and outspoken Minerva, the family's political ringleader; pious Patria, who forsakes her faith to join her sisters after witnessing the atrocities of the tyranny; and the baby sister, sensitive Maria Teresa, who, in a series of diaries, chronicles her allegiance to Minerva and the physical and spiritual anguish of prison life.

In the Time of the Butterflies is an American Library Association Notable Book and a 1995 National Book Critics Circle Award nominee.
02
Uprooted from their family home in the Dominican Republic, the four Garcia sisters - Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia - arrive in New York City in 1960 to find a life far different from the genteel existence of maids, manicures, and extended family they left behind. What they have lost - and what they find - is revealed in the fifteen interconnected stories that make up this exquisite novel from one of the premier novelists of our time.
03
I wonder what it would be like to be free? Not to need wings because you don’t have to fly away from your country?

Anita de la Torre is a twelve-year-old girl living in the Dominican Republic in 1960. Most of her relatives have emigrated to the United States, her Tío Toni has disappeared, Papi has been getting mysterious phone calls about butterflies and someone named Mr. Smith, and the secret police have started terrorizing her family for their suspected opposition to the country’s dictator. While Anita deals with a frightening series of events, she also struggles with her adolescence and her own personal fight to be free.
04
At last! A zesty, exuberant follow-up to the wildly popular How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, full of Julia Alvarez's keen observations and tender affection for her characters.

The Garcia Girls are back, most notably Yolanda, or Yo, who has grown up to be a writer. In the process, she has managed to get kicked out of college, break more than a few hearts, have her own heart broken many times, return for extended visits to the Dominican Republic her family fled when she was a child, and marry three times. She has also infuriated her entire family by publishing the intimate details of their lives as fiction.

This brilliant novel is a full and true exploration of a woman's soul, a meditation on the writing life, and a lyrical account of the immigrant's search for identity and a place in the world. !Yo!'s bright colors, zesty dialogue, warm feeling, and genuine insight could only come from the palette of Julia Alvarez.

Description from Penguin Group.
05
The Barnes & Noble Review - La Musa de la Patria

In recent years, novelists Mona Simpson (Anywhere But Here), Karla Kuban (Marchlands) and Susannah Moore (My Old Sweetheart), among numerous others, have memorably explored the mother-daughter relationship, showing us the conflicted, often painful intersections of the lives of their multigenerational characters. But in Julia Alvarez's new novel, In the Name of Salome, the mother, Dominican poet and political muse Salomé Ureña, only lives long enough to hear her three-year-old daughter Camila recite one of her consumptive mother's poems. What we get, then, is a compelling work of fiction based on remarkably tireless research and shaped by Camila's reach into the past, into her mother's history and her mother's place in history, in order to make sense of the choices she has made about her own.

A masterful manipulator of time, Alvarez alternates points of view, shuttling us not only back and forth between Salomé and Camila, but also moving us forward in Salome's life as she moves us backward in Camila's. Salomé writes in secret as a child, publishes briefly under a pseudonym and soon emerges as herself, a figure of inspiration for a nation. But all the while she longs for that other kind of passion, the one her family and her readers would like to believe she is above: the passionate love of a man. Sadly, though she finds that love in Papancho, he is never fully hers. He belongs in turn to his country, to his studies, and inevitably to another woman. How Salomé withstands losing this managain andagain has to do with what we all withstand — wisely and unwisely — in the name of love.

Camila writes poetry only as a mature woman. As a child her life is shaped by the political values that shape Papancho's life. Those values find only cautious expression in the U.S. where she studies at the University of Minnesota and later becomes a professor at Vassar. But in Cuba, where she spends the last 13 years of her life, she fulfills the dream of both her mother and father as a vital and dedicated participant in Fidel Castro's "revolutionary experiment."

Through skillful mechanics Alvarez makes characters of time itself and the history that marks it. And what troubling history it is, spanning over 100 years (1856-1973) in the life of the Dominican Republic, where the government changes hands with as much frequency as a señorita changes her linens, and "Depending on the president, the pantheon of heroes changes, one regime's villain is the next one's hero, until the word hero, like the word patria, begins to mean nothing.".

But if history renders language meaningless, what is left? Only the struggle to make meaning, and only love makes that struggle real and worthwhile; on this matter mother and daughter agree. So this is also a love story, in which Salomé discovers that she will give up everything — her writing, her social activism, finally her health — for the man she loves, and Camilla discovers that she will sacrifice her secure teaching position in the U.S., the approval of family, friends and erstwhile lovers for the very thing her mother's passionate poetry taught her: love for the land and the people who give life to it.

Alvarez's skillful prose styling distinguishes the two women not only through the details of their lives but also through their meticulously wrought voices. Moreover, just as interesting as what distinguishes them from one another is what unites them: the pull of public life on their private lives and the challenges presented by the conventions that govern their lives as women. And they and we thrill equally to the ultimate discovery we're all reaching for, "that hushed and holy moment...when the word becomes flesh."

In a book rich in extended metaphor, where poetry and idealism play a huge role, we are never encumbered with abstraction. This is a writer going at full tilt: wry, wise, ironic, forgiving. She, like both the women of this novel, is an educator, though neither didactic nor condescending. Even though we know from the beginning the details about the end of both mother's and daughter's lives, Alvarez manages to sustain an air of suspense throughout, the point being not what happens, but how it comes about, and at what cost.

Susan Thames is the author of a book of short stories, AS MUCH AS I KNOW. Her novel I'll Be Home Late Tonight was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection.

06
The first adult novel in almost fifteen years by the internationally bestselling author of In the Time of the Butterflies and How the García Girls Lost Their Accents

Antonia Vega, the immigrant writer at the center of Afterlife, has had the rug pulled out from under her. She has just retired from the college where she taught English when her beloved husband, Sam, suddenly dies. And then more jolts: her bighearted but unstable sister disappears, and Antonia returns home one evening to find a pregnant, undocumented teenager on her doorstep. Antonia has always sought direction in the literature she loves—lines from her favorite authors play in her head like a soundtrack—but now she finds that the world demands more of her than words.

Afterlife is a compact, nimble, and sharply droll novel. Set in this political moment of tribalism and distrust, it asks: What do we owe those in crisis in our families, including—maybe especially—members of our human family? How do we live in a broken world without losing faith in one another or ourselves? And how do we stay true to those glorious souls we have lost?
08
Latina novelist Alma Huebner is suffering from writer's block and is years past the completion date for yet another of her bestselling family sagas. Her husband, Richard, works for a humanitarian organization dedicated to the health and prosperity of developing countries and wants her help on an extended AIDS assignment in the Dominican Republic. But Alma begs off joining him: the publisher is breathing down her neck. She promises to work hard and follow him a bit later.

The truth is that Alma is seriously sidetracked by a story she has stumbled across. It's the story of a much earlier medical do-gooder, Spaniard Francisco Xavier Balmis, who in 1803 undertook to vaccinate the populations of Spain's American colonies against smallpox. To do this, he required live "carriers" of the vaccine.

Of greater interest to Alma is Isabel Sendales y Gómez, director of La Casa de Expósitos, who was asked to select twenty-two orphan boys to be the vaccine carriers. She agreed— with the stipulation that she would accompany the boys on the proposed two-year voyage. Her strength and courage inspire Alma, who finds herself becoming obsessed with the details of Isabel's adventures.

This resplendent novel-within-a-novel spins the disparate tales of two remarkable women, both of whom are swept along by machismo. In depicting their confrontation of the great scourges of their respective eras, Alvarez exposes the conflict between altruism and ambition.

Julia Alvarez’s new novel, Afterlife, is available now.
09
A delightfully entertaining story of family and culture from acclaimed author Julia Alvarez.

Moving to Vermont after his parents split, Miguel has plenty to worry about! Tía Lola, his quirky, carismática, and maybe magical aunt makes his life even more unpredictable when she arrives from the Dominican Republic to help out his Mami. Like her stories for adults, Julia Alvarez’s first middle-grade book sparkles with magic as it illuminates a child’s experiences living in two cultures.
10
In a story that travels beyond borders and between families, acclaimed Dominican novelist and poet Julia Alvarez reflects on the joys and burdens of love for her parents, for her husband, and for a young Haitian boy known as Piti. In this intimate true account of a promise kept, Alvarez takes us on a journey into experiences that challenge our way of thinking about history and how it can be reimagined when people from two countries traditional enemies and strangers become friends.