Something to Declare by Julia Alvarez
Essays

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Synopsis

“Julia Alvarez has suitcases full of history (public and private), trunks full of insights into what  it means to be a Latina in the United States,  bags full of literary wisdom.” —Los Angeles Times

From the internationally acclaimed author of the bestselling novels In the Time of the Butterflies and How the García Girls Lost Their Accents comes a rich and revealing work of nonfiction capturing the life and mind of an artist as she knits together the dual themes of coming to America and becoming a writer.

The twenty-four confessional, evocative essays that make up Something to Declare are divided into two parts. “Customs” includes Alvarez’s memories of her family’s life in the Dominican Republic, fleeing from Trujillo’s dictatorship, and arriving in America when she was ten years old. She examines the effects of exile--surviving the shock of New York City life; yearning to fit in; training her tongue (and her mind) to speak English; and watching the Miss America pageant for clues about American-style beauty. The second half, “Declarations,” celebrates her passion for words and the writing life. She lets us watch as she struggles with her art--searching for a subject for her next novel, confronting her characters, facing her family’s anger when she invades their privacy, reflecting on the writers who influenced her, and continually honing her craft.

The winner of the National Medal of Arts for her extraordinary storytelling, Julia Alvarez here offers essays that are an inspiring gift to readers and writers everywhere.

“This beautiful collection of essays . . . traces a process of personal  reconciliation with insight, humor, and quiet power.”  —San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle

“Reading Julia Alvarez’s new collection of essays is like curling up  with a glass of wine in one hand and the phone in the other,  listening to a bighearted, wisecracking friend share the hard-earned wisdom about family, identity, and the art of writing.” —People
 

About Julia Alvarez

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Julia Alvarez left the Dominican Republic for the United States in 1960 at the age of ten. She is the author of six novels, two books of nonfiction, three collections of poetry, and eight books for children and young adults. Her work has garnered wide recognition, including a Latina Leader Award in Literature in 2007 from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the 2002 Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature, the2000 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.
 
Published August 1, 1998 by Algonquin Books. 313 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Something to Declare

Kirkus Reviews

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Why shouldn’t Alvarez seek to establish her identity and place in the larger world of letters, too, rather than mainly in the paradoxically exclusive province of gender and ethnicity?

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Publishers Weekly

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Having transformed her tumultuous life story--a passage from childhood in the Dominican Republic and Queens, N.Y., to a career as a celebrated author and creative writing teacher--into a body of startlingly lyrical fiction and poetry ( Yo!, etc.), Alvarez here chronicles that journey in nonfictio...

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Entertainment Weekly

Julia Alvarez experienced many novelists' secret nightmare, as she confesses in Something to Declare, a trenchant collection of essays about language and lineage: Upon publication of her debut, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, her mother — upset by perceived family disclosures — refu...

Oct 02 1998 | Read Full Review of Something to Declare: Essays

BookPage

Aspiring writers will find it particularly instructive to follow the journey that connects the young Alvarez who told her grandfather she wanted to be a poet with the middle-aged woman at a book reading who tells her audience why writing matters.

Jun 24 2014 | Read Full Review of Something to Declare: Essays

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