How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents Essay - Critical Essays

Julia Alvarez

Critical Context

How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, Julia Alvarez’s first full-length novel, is part of an important and growing body of work by contemporary Latina writers such as Cuban American Cristina García and Puerto Rican Esmeralda Santiago, especially given the unique Caribbean perspective they bring to American literature. Major writers such as Rudolfo Anaya, Tomás Rivera, and Nicholas Mohr figure importantly in the most recent stage of development in the Latino tradition, one strengthened by contemporary writers Julia Alvarez, Sandra Cisneros, Ana Castillo, Oscar Hijuelos, Gary Soto, Victor Villasenor, Helen Maria Viramontes, and many others.

In her novel, Alvarez makes two major contributions to American literature. First, in her use of multiple narrators and her experimentation with chronology, she joins other postmodern American writers such as Louise Erdrich and Maxine Hong Kingston who find new ways to construct a novel and tell a story. Second, Alvarez expresses a new voice among the many voices that constitute the American literary tradition, from an island where few voices have yet been heard.