Julia Alvarez

Julia Álvarez is a Dominican-American poet, novelist, and essayist. Born in New York of Dominican descent, she spent the first ten years of her childhood in the Dominican Republic, until her father's involvement in a political rebellion forced her family to flee the country.
Álvarez rose to prominence with the novels How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, In the Time of the Butterflies, and Yo!. Her publications as a poet include Homecoming and The Woman I Kept to Myself, and as an essayist the autobiographical compilation Something to Declare. Many literary critics regard her to be one of the most significant Latina writers and she has achieved critical and commercial success on an international scale.
Many of Álvarez's works are influenced by her experiences as a Dominican in the United States, and focus heavily on issues of assimilation and identity. Her cultural upbringing as both a Dominican and an American is evident in the combination of personal and political tone in her writing. She is known for works that examine cultural expectations of women both in the Dominican Republic and the United States, and for rigorous investigations of cultural stereotypes.
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Julia Alvarez
“Julia Alvarez has suitcases full of history (public and private), trunks full of insights into what  it means to be a Latina in the United States,  bags full of literary wisdom.” —Los Angeles Times

From the internationally acclaimed author of the bestselling novels In the Time of the Butterflies and How the García Girls Lost Their Accents comes a rich and revealing work of nonfiction capturing the life and mind of an artist as she knits together the dual themes of coming to America and becoming a writer.

The twenty-four confessional, evocative essays that make up Something to Declare are divided into two parts. “Customs” includes Alvarez’s memories of her family’s life in the Dominican Republic, fleeing from Trujillo’s dictatorship, and arriving in America when she was ten years old. She examines the effects of exile--surviving the shock of New York City life; yearning to fit in; training her tongue (and her mind) to speak English; and watching the Miss America pageant for clues about American-style beauty. The second half, “Declarations,” celebrates her passion for words and the writing life. She lets us watch as she struggles with her art--searching for a subject for her next novel, confronting her characters, facing her family’s anger when she invades their privacy, reflecting on the writers who influenced her, and continually honing her craft.

The winner of the National Medal of Arts for her extraordinary storytelling, Julia Alvarez here offers essays that are an inspiring gift to readers and writers everywhere.

“This beautiful collection of essays . . . traces a process of personal  reconciliation with insight, humor, and quiet power.”  —San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle

“Reading Julia Alvarez’s new collection of essays is like curling up  with a glass of wine in one hand and the phone in the other,  listening to a bighearted, wisecracking friend share the hard-earned wisdom about family, identity, and the art of writing.” —People
Julia Alvarez
Julia Alvarez
In her most ambitious work since In the Time of Butterflies, Julia Alvarez tells the story of a woman whose poetry inspired one Caribbean revolution and of her daughter whose dedication to teaching strengthened another.

Camila Henriquez Urena is about to retire from her longtime job teaching Spanish at Vassar College. Only now as she sorts through family papers does she begin to know the woman behind the legend of her mother, the revered Salome Urena, who died when Camila was three.

In stark contrast to Salome, who became the Dominican Republic's national poet at the age of seventeen, Camila has spent most of her life trying not to offend anybody. Her mother dedicated her life to educating young women to give them voice in their turbulent new nation; Camila has spent her life quietly and anonymously teaching the Spanish pluperfect to upper-class American girls with no notion of revolution, no knowledge of Salome Urena.

Now, in 1960, Camila must choose a final destination for herself. Where will she spend the rest of her days? News of the revolution in Cuba mirrors her own internal upheaval. In the process of deciding her future, Camila uncovers the truth of her mother's tragic personal life and, finally, finds a place for her own passion and commitment.

Julia Alvarez has won a large and devoted audience by brilliantly illuminating the history of modern Caribbean America through the personal stories of its people. As a Latina, as a poet and novelist, and as a university professor, Julia Alvarez brings her own experience to this exquisite story.

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