Julia Alvarez

in Conversation with Jaquira Diaz

Recorded May 24th, 2020

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Julia Alvarez 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.

A novel is not, after all, a historical document, but a way to travel through the human heart.”

– Julia Alvarez

Julia Alvarez’s parents returned to their native country, Dominican Republic, shortly after her birth. Ten years later, the family was forced to flee to the United States because of her father’s involvement in a plot to overthrow the dictator, Trujillo.

Julia has written novels (How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, In the Time of the Butterflies, ¡Yo!, In the Name of Salomé, Saving the World, Afterlife), collections of poems (Homecoming, The Other Side/ El Otro Lado, The Woman I Kept to Myself), nonfiction (Something to Declare, Once Upon A Quinceañera, and A Wedding in Haiti), and numerous books for young readers (including the Tía Lola Stories series, Before We Were Free, finding miracles, Return to Sender and Where Do They Go?).

Alvarez’s awards include the Pura Belpré and Américas Awards for her books for young readers, the Hispanic Heritage Award, and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award. In 2013, she received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama.

Visit the Book Passage website to have any of Julia’s books delivered right to your door.

You’re sure to enjoy these Book Passage favorites:

Afterlife

4z

In the Time of the Butterflies

5b

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

howthegarciagirlslost2

Get ready to join Julia in conversation, Sunday, May 24th.

In the meantime, we invite you to take a moment now to help shape this upcoming conversation.

Check out the list of questions submitted by other registered attendees, and then vote to support any that match your interests.

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  • 6

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    Who are some of your favorite authors, whether fiction or non-fiction, and have they influenced your writing?

  • 6

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    How do you both view the controversy around the publication of American Dirt and the concept of “cultural appropriation” in these times?

  • 4

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    How do you decide whether you are going to use fiction writing or poetry as a medium for for your work?

  • 4

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    Which novel was your favorite to write?

  • 2

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    What are you working on now?

  • 1

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    Have you written any of your books in Spanish? How involved are you with the translations?

  • 1

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    Do you believe your Latinidad will always define you as an author? Explain

  • 0

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    Going back to the discussion of how you are seen as representative of your “tribe” because there are so few LatinX writers published each year in the US. Do you think African-American authors don’t have that burden because there are more published? Or do you think they are still dealing with the issue because they are “of color”?

  • 0

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    Not a question, admiration. I lived in the DR for 5 years during my youth when Trujillo was president. Came here at age 12. I ‘feel’ your books. Thank you.

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    Follow up to the fiction vs. poetry question. What are the major differences for you in terms of the process for each genre? What are the challenges with language for each? Thank you! (Wendy)