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Julia Alvarez Biography

(1950– ), How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent, In the Time of Butterflies, Homecoming

American Latina novelist; born in New York, she spent her early years in the Dominican Republic. Alvarez later became a professor of English at Middlebury College, Vermont. Her first novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent (1991), written in reverse chronological order, recounts the events surrounding the immigration of the fictional Garcia family to the US. Much like Alvarez and her own sisters, the Garcia girls, Yolanda (who acts as Alvarez's alter ego), Carla, Sandi, and Sofia struggle to adapt to their new life and begin the often emotional and challenging process of assimilation into American culture. Her second novel, In the Time of Butterflies (1994), is based on the actual lives and tragic deaths of three beautiful convent-educated sisters in the Dominican Republic who are known as Las Mariposas (‘The Butterflies’); Alvarez characterizes the voices of the sisters as they describe the everyday horrors of life following their decision to oppose the dictatorship of General Trujillo. Alvarez has been praised for her construction of character and for her use of English to convey the sounds of Spanish. She is also the author of several collections of poetry, most notably Homecoming (1984). See Latino/Latina Literature in English.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Agha Shahid Ali Biography to Ardoch Perth and Kinross