Julia Alvarez was born in New York City, raised in the Dominican Republic until the age of 10 when she returned to the U.S. in 1960. A novelist, poet, and essayist, she is the author of nineteen books, including How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, In the Time of the Butterflies (a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Selection), Yo!, Something to Declare, In the Name of Salome, Saving the World, A Wedding in Haiti, and The Woman I Kept to Myself. Her work has garnered wide recognition, including the 2013 National Medal of Arts, a Latina Leader Award in Literature in 2007 from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the 2002 Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature, the 2000 Woman of the Year by Latina magazine, and inclusion in the New York Public Library’s 1996 program “The Hand of the Poet: Original Manuscripts by 100 Masters, from John Donne to Julia Alvarez.” A writer-in-residence at Middlebury College, Alvarez and her husband, Bill Eichner, established Alta Gracia, an organic coffee farm–literacy arts center, in her homeland, the Dominican Republic.
Yvonne Latty is a journalist and a clinical professor at New York University and the Director of the Reporting New York and Reporting the Nation programs at the Institute. She has produced documentaries, hosted, produced and edited podcasts and worked as an urban newspaper reporter. She is the author of In Conflict: Iraq War Veterans Speak Out on Duty, Loss and the Fight to Stay Alive and the critically acclaimed We Were There: Voices of African American Veterans, from World War II to the War in Iraq. Yvonne is a Dart Fellow for Journalism and Trauma and a Leeway Foundation Fellow. She is a lifetime member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.
Yvonne and Julia will talk about their shared Dominican heritage and Julia’s many novels. A copy of the 25th anniversary paperback release of In the Time of the Butterflies will be included with the admittance ticket to the event. Watchung Booksellers will have some of Julia’s other novels on hand for purchase.
It is November 25, 1960, and three beautiful sisters have been found near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. The official state newspaper reports their deaths as accidental. It does not mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among the leading opponents of Gen. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo’s dictatorship. It doesn’t have to. Everybody knows of Las Mariposas—“The Butterflies.”
In this extraordinary novel, the voices of all four sisters—Minerva, Patria, María Teresa, and the survivor, Dedé—speak across the decades to tell their own stories, from hair ribbons and secret crushes to gunrunning and prison torture, and to describe the everyday horrors of life under Trujillo’s rule. Through the art and magic of Julia Alvarez’s imagination, the martyred Butterflies live again in this novel of courage and love, and the human cost of political oppression.