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Julia Alvarez

Author of In the Time of the Butterflies

36+ Works 15,214 Members 443 Reviews 34 Favorited

About the Author

Julia Alvarez was born in New York City on March 27, 1950 and was raised in the Dominican Republic. Before becoming a full-time writer, she traveled across the country with poetry-in-the-schools programs and then taught at the high school level and the college level. In 1991, she earned tenure at show more Middlebury College and published her first book How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent, which won the PEN Oakland/Jefferson Miles Award for excellence in 1991. Her other works include In the Time of the Butterflies, The Other Side of El Otro Lado, and Once upon a Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA. (Bowker Author Biography) show less


Works by Julia Alvarez

In the Time of the Butterflies (1994) 4,349 copies
Before We Were Free (2002) 1,201 copies
Return to Sender (2009) 878 copies
¡Yo! (1997) 717 copies
In the Name of Salome (2000) 678 copies
Saving the World (2006) 618 copies
Afterlife (2020) 486 copies
Finding Miracles (2004) 315 copies
Something to Declare: Essays (1998) 302 copies
The Secret Footprints (2000) 154 copies
A Cafecito Story (2001) 147 copies
A Wedding in Haiti (2012) 143 copies

Associated Works

The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction (1983) — Contributor — 1,113 copies
Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama (1995) — Contributor, some editions — 901 copies
The Future Dictionary of America (2004) — Contributor — 621 copies
Flash Fiction: 72 Very Short Stories (1992) — Contributor — 389 copies
Cries of the Spirit: A Celebration of Women's Spirituality (2000) — Contributor — 364 copies
This Is My Best: Great Writers Share Their Favorite Work (2004) — Contributor — 155 copies
Growing Up Latino: Memoirs and Stories (1993) — Contributor — 126 copies
Coming of Age in America: A Multicultural Anthology (1994) — Contributor — 92 copies
Rebel Angels: 25 Poets of the New Formalism (1996) — Contributor — 80 copies
The Best American Poetry 2018 (2018) — Contributor — 71 copies
It Occurs to Me That I Am America: New Stories and Art (2018) — Contributor — 70 copies
Our Shadows Have Claws: 15 Latin American Monster Stories (2022) — Contributor — 63 copies
The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature (2010) — Contributor — 57 copies
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Selected Works (1707) — Introduction — 56 copies
In the Time of the Butterflies [2001 film] (2002) — Original novel — 43 copies
An Uncertain Inheritance: Writers on Caring for Family (2007) — Contributor — 43 copies
The Best American Poetry 2020 (2020) — Contributor — 39 copies
Dream Me Home Safely: Writers on Growing Up in America (2003) — Contributor — 38 copies
Floricanto Si!: U.S. Latina Poetry (1998) — Contributor — 25 copies
The Best of the Bellevue Literary Review (2008) — Contributor — 25 copies
A Line of Cutting Women (1998) — Contributor — 14 copies
Caribbean Connections: The Dominican Republic (2005) — Foreword — 9 copies
Contemporary Vermont Fiction: An Anthology (2014) — Contributor — 5 copies


20th century (74) anthology (432) Caribbean (103) coming of age (65) Dominican (64) Dominican Republic (675) essays (120) family (233) fiction (1,680) Hispanic (61) historical fiction (429) history (63) humor (93) immigrants (126) immigration (176) Latin America (170) Latin American (62) Latino (133) Latinx (98) literature (272) multicultural (87) non-fiction (203) novel (176) own (78) poetry (310) politics (91) read (154) realistic fiction (178) revolution (85) short stories (371) sisters (163) Spanish (141) textbook (84) to-read (787) unread (90) Vermont (71) women (161) writing (112) YA (67) young adult (72)

Common Knowledge

USA (birth)
New York, New York, USA
Places of residence
New York, New York, USA
Dominican Republic
Abbot Academy (1967)
University of Connecticut
Middlebury College (1971)
Syracuse University (M.A., Creative Writing, 1975)
business owner
Eichner, Bill (spouse)
Sigma Tau Delta
Awards and honors
Benjamin T. Marshall Poetry Prize, Connecticut College, 1968 and 1969
prize from Academy of American Poetry, 1974
creative writing fellowship, Syracuse University, 1974-75
Kenan grant, Phillips Andover Academy, 1980
poetry award, La Reina Press, 1982
exhibition grant, Vermont Arts Council, 1984-85 (show all 28)
Robert Frost Poetry fellowship, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, 1986
Third Woman Press Award, first prize in narrative, 1986
award for younger writers, General Electric Foundation, 1986
National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1987-88
grant from Ingram Merrill Foundation, 1990
Josephine Miles Award, PEN Oakland, 1991
notable book designation, American Library Association, 1992
notable book designation, 1994, American Library Association
National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, 1995
Best Books for Young Adults designation, 1995, American Library Association, all for In the Time of the Butterflies
Jessica Nobel-Maxwell Poetry Prize, 1995, American Poetry Review
Doctor of Humane Letters, City University of New York, John Jay College, 1996
Alumni Achievement Award, 1996, Middlebury College
Dominican Republic Annual Book Fair, 1997, dedicated to Alvarez's body of work
selected "Woman of the Year," Latina Magazine, 2000
Sor Juana Award, 2002
Hispanic Heritage Award, Hispanic Heritage Awards Foundation, 2002
Américas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature, Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs, 2002
Pura Belpre Author Award, American Library Association, 2010, for Return to Sender
F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Fiction (2009)
Pura Belpré Award, American Library Association, 2004
"Twenty-one Classics for the Twenty-first Century" designation, New York Librarians
Susan Bergholz Literary Services
Short biography
From 2009 National Book Festival brochure: "Although Julia Alvarez was born in New York City, her family moved to the Dominican Republic shortly after birth, where she spent the majority of her childhood. In 1960, when she was 10, her family returned to the United States, fleeing the Dominican Republic because of her father's involvement in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the dictator Rafael Trujillo. Alvarez calls herself an American, yet her writing bridges the realms of Latina and American culture."



Alma Cruz, a Dominican novelist and professor nearing retirement, has enjoyed considerable professional success since emigrating from her native land to her current home in Vermont. Like all writers, though, along with the successes, there have been failures in the form of books she cannot seem to finish. These untold stories haunt Alma to the point that when she and her three sisters inherit some rundown properties in the Dominican Republic, she returns home to commit the symbolic act of burying those failed literary efforts in the ground. But the characters in those stories refuse to give up on their tales being told, even if Alma has. Two characters in particular—Bienvenida Trujillo, the second wife of the brutal dictator who terrorized the island for decades, and Manuel Cruz, Alma’s own father who was exiled for his political views—find a way to communicate with each other as well as Filomena, the caretaker in the unique cemetery. While most unfinished books go away quietly—as one of Alma’s colleagues put it: “Some stories don’t want to be told”—these are two that insist on being heard. And what surprising and heartbreaking accounts they end up telling.

In The Cemetery of Untold Stories, celebrated author Julia Alvarez spins this inventive tale, which effectively combines elements of historical fiction and magical realism with a multi-generational family saga in roughly equal measure. That is an impressive feat, especially given how tricky magical realism can be to pull off on its own, much less in concert with other genres. Alvarez does a nice job of moving between the plethora of storylines, starting in the present day with Alma and her family before regressing through the decades where we learn the histories that the spirits of Bienvenida and Manuel have come alive to tell. The writing throughout the novel is sharp and affecting; these are characters that we come to care about, both those in the present (Alma and Filomena) and those from the past. If there was any shortcoming in the book it would be that some of the family dynamics and backstories—usually a strength in the author’s fiction—were a little underdeveloped, particularly those involving Alma’s sisters and mother. Still, this is a minor complaint about what was a highly enjoyable reading experience. It is an easy book to recommend without hesitation.
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browner56 | 1 other review | Nov 4, 2023 |
The Cemetery of Untold Stories by Julia Alvarez is a magical book about the life stories take on, with or without their creator. It is also a vibrant commentary about whose voices are heard and who gets to tell whose story.

I'll admit upfront I am a big fan of Alvarez, so I came to this expecting something spectacular. My expectations were met and I don't think I am saying that blindly, I have been (once) underwhelmed with something she wrote.

Anyone who has written a lot but published little to nothing understands how that can play with your mind. Even the healthiest will still harbor self-doubt, and the rest of us quit often (which also means we start again often, writing is something many of us simply have to do, even if we believe it will end up being just for ourselves). My personal "cemetery" is actually a couple of file cabinet drawers, but every now and then I hear murmurings, so maybe I need to open myself to possibility.

While I loved this novel, it made me want to go back and reread some of her essays and nonfiction. In particular I plan to go back to Something to Declare, it has been a very long time but for some reason I want to put these works in conversation with each other, and me. Then again, maybe my memory is playing tricks on me. But even if that is the case, I'll still enjoy rereading it.

Highly recommended for those who enjoy, even if just for the duration of a short novel, believing in the power of magic and of story.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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pomo58 | 1 other review | Sep 7, 2023 |
A mi me encantan las ilustraciones vívidas y detalladas de este libro, que cuenta una leyenda agradable de la República Dominicana.
bmanglass | 11 other reviews | Aug 31, 2023 |
A cultural snapshot particularly well told; especially good writing.
FrancisNash | 9 other reviews | Aug 4, 2023 |



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