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A novel is not, after all, a historical document, but a way to travel through the human heart.”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



In the Time of the Butterflies


How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents


A personal note from Julia Alvarez & Jaquira Diaz. 

Sent May 28th, following their Conversations with Authors session.

Gracias to all of you who participated in Sunday’s conversation with Jaquira Díaz and with me. 

I am sorry we didn’t get to see you or hear your voices, but I’d like to think that both of us felt your energy and cariño and presence.  Also, to all who submitted questions, gracias. I hope we covered most of them or the most important. 

My abuelito used to say, only eat until you’re 95% full.  I used to think, That’s crazy, as I wolfed it down. I think what he meant is—perspective that comes with growing older—one should always leave a little emptiness for other things to fill.

I want it to mean that what we didn’t get to together will be an enticement to all of you to visit with us again inside the covers of books!  Both these, which we mentioned, as well as the two we were celebrating tonight: Jaquira’s ORDINARY GIRLS and my AFTERLIFE:

Take care of yourselves, keep reading and loving each other through these difficult and dark and wrenchingly tender times. 


Thank you all for joining us from your homes, for reading, for supporting our work, and especially for supporting indie bookstores like Book Passage, which are such important community spaces for all of us.

It means so much to be able to celebrate the release of Julia’s latest novel, AFTERLIFE, alongside ORDINARY GIRLS. I hope you also have a chance to discover these as well:

Muchos abrazos!