Discussion Topics (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Which character or characters in How the Garciá Girls Lost Their Accents are most vividly portrayed?
Is it essential for immigrants to relinquish old traditions in order to seek the American Dream?
How does Julia Alvarez’s inversion of chronology affect the structure of the narrative in How the Garciá Girls Lost Their Accents?
In In the Time of the Butterflies, why does Dedé experience a sense of guilt after her three sisters were murdered? Is her guilt justified?
Who among the four sisters in In the Time of the Butterflies can be considered the most courageous?
Does Dedé’s failure to participate in the resistance movement make her a coward?
Other literary forms (Critical Survey of Poetry: American Poets)
Julia Alvarez (AL-vah-rehz) has published a number of novels, her acclaimed How the García Girls Lost Their Accents (1991), In the Time of the Butterflies (1994),Yo! (1997), In the Name of Salomé (2000), The Cafecito Story (2001), and Saving the World (2006); a collection of essays, Something to Declare (1998); a nonfiction work, Once Upon a Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA (2007); and children’s books, including How Tía Lola Came to Stay (2001) and A Gift of Gracias (2005). She has also edited a collection of poetry, Old Age Ain’t for Sissies (1979).
Achievements (Critical Survey of Poetry: American Poets)
Julia Alvarez’s How the García Girls Lost Their Accents received the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Book Award (1991) and was selected as a Notable Book by both The New York Times (1991) and the American Library Association (1992). The critically acclaimed In the Time of the Butterflies was selected as a Notable Book by the American Library Association (1994) and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction (1994). Before We Were Free (2002) was selected as a Notable Book and Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association (2002) and the same year won the Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature and the American Library Association’s Pura Belpre Award. Alvarez’s literary awards include the La Reina Creative Writing Award for poetry (1982), the Third Woman Press Award (1986), the General Electric Foundation Award for Younger Writers (1986), American Poetry Review’s Jessica Nobel-Maxwell Poetry Prize (1995), the Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature (2002), and the Latina Leader Award in Literature (2007). Alvarez has received honorary degrees from several institutions, including the University of Vermont, Burlington (2008), and fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference (1986), the National Endowment for the Arts (1987-1988), and the Ingram Merril Foundation (1990).
Other literary forms (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
Julia Alvarez has written in several genres, something for which, she says, “I blame my life.” Her publications include the nonfiction Once upon a Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA (2007), which she was invited to write. She also has written numerous essays, including the autobiographical Something to Declare (1998). Her favorite genre is poetry, and she has published many poems in literary journals, plus several books of poems, including The Other Side/El otro lado (1995) and Seven Trees (1998), which features prints by her daughter-in-law, artist Sara Eichner. She also has drawn on her Latino heritage for a substantial number of books for children and young adults, notably Before We Were Free (2002) and How Tía Lola Came to Stay (2001).
Achievements (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
Julia Alvarez’s books have been published in at least eleven languages and are widely available around the world. Some are bilingual (English and Spanish) editions. She has won a number of prizes for her poetry, including from the Academy of American Poetry in 1974, and was awarded a Robert Frost Fellowship in Poetry in 1986. Three of her works, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, In the Time of the Butterflies, and Before We Were Free, were chosen as Notable Books by the American Library Association (ALA); the latter also received the ALA’s Pura Belpré Award, presented for an outstanding literary work for youth and children that “best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience.” Alvarez has received honorary degrees from John Jay College of the City University of New York and from Union College of Schenectady, New York. Her works have contributed substantially to the Latina voice in contemporary American literature.
Bibliography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Alvarez, Julia. “A Citizen of the World: An Interview with Julia Alvarez.” In Latina Self-Portraits: Interviews with Contemporary Women Writers, edited by Bridget Kevane and Juanita Heredia. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000. Offers insight into background, politics, and various aspects of Alvarez’s work as a poet and fiction writer.
Alvarez, Julia. “An Unlikely Beginning for a Writer.” In Máscaras, edited by Lucha Corpi. Berkeley, Calif.: Third Woman Press, 1997. Provides information on the life experiences that have influenced the themes and forms of Alvarez’s work.
Alvarez, Julia. “On Finding a Latino Voice.” In The Writing Life: Writers on How They Think and How They Work, edited by Maria Arana. New York: Public Affairs Press, 2003.
Bing, Jonathan. “Julia Alvarez: Books that Cross Borders.” Publishers Weekly 243 (December 16, 1996). A concise view of Alvarez’s writing, dealing mostly with In the Time of the Butterflies and Homecoming.
Echevarria, Roberto Gonzalez. “Sisters in Death.” The New York Times Book Review (December 18, 1994): 28.
Garcia-Johnson, Ronie-Richele. “Julía Alvarez.” In Notable Hispanic American Women, edited by Diane Telgen and Jim Kamp. Detroit: Gale Research, 1993.
Johnson, Kelly Lyon. Julia Alvarez: Writing a New Place on the Map. Albuquerque: University...
(The entire section is 658 words.)