Something to Declareby Julia Alvarez
In her first book of nonfiction, Julia Alvarez takes us behind the scenes and shares the lessons she's learned on her way to becoming an internationally acclaimed novelist. In 1960, when Alvarez was ten years old, her family fled the Dominican Republic. Her father participated in a failed coup attempt against the dictator Rafael Trujillo, and exile to the United
In her first book of nonfiction, Julia Alvarez takes us behind the scenes and shares the lessons she's learned on her way to becoming an internationally acclaimed novelist. In 1960, when Alvarez was ten years old, her family fled the Dominican Republic. Her father participated in a failed coup attempt against the dictator Rafael Trujillo, and exile to the United States was the only way to save his life. The family settled in New York City, where Dr. Alvarez set up a medical practice in the Bronx while his wife and four daughters set about the business of assimilation--a lifelong struggle. Loss of her native land, language, culture, and extended family formed the thematic basis for two of Julia Alvarez's three best-selling novels--HOW THE GARCIA GIRLS LOST THEIR ACCENTS and its sequel, YO! Her father's revolutionary ties inspired IN THE TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES, her historical novel about one of Trujillo's most infamous atrocities. SOMETHING TO DECLARE offers an extraordinary collection of essays that deal with the two big issues of Alvarez's life--growing up with one foot in each culture and writing. The twelve essays that make up "Customs," the first of two parts, examine the specific effects of exile on this writer. The essays are personal--how her maternal grandfather passed along his love of the arts, how the nuclear family-in-exile snuggled down every year to watch the Miss America contest from the parental bed, how Julia feared her family might disown her upon publication of her first novel. In the second half, "Declarations," are twelve essays about writing that range from confession of Alvarez's means of supporting her writing habit to the gritty details of her actual process. Every one of these essays is warm, open, honest, and generous. SOMETHING TO DECLARE will appeal not only to her many fans, but to students of writing at all levels.
- Penguin Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.44(w) x 8.09(h) x 0.73(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
Read an Excerpt
TEN OF MY WRITING COMMANDMENTS
I. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few.
II. The obligation of the artist is not to solve the problem but to state the problem correctly.
III. Do not be afraid!
--ANGELS APPEARING TO SHEPERDS TENDING THEIR FLOCKS BY NIGHT
IV. If you bring forth what is inside you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is inside you, what is inside you will destroy you.
--ST. THOMAS, GNOSTIC GOSPELS
V. Poetry presents the thing in order to convey the feeling. It should be precise about the thing and reticent about the feeling.
VI. One must write a poem the way one rules an empire, the way one cooks a small fish.
VII. El papel lo aguanta todo. (Paper holds everything.)
VIII. You must change your life.
--RAINER MARIA RILKE
IX. The function of freedom is to free someone else.
X. If you want to be a writer, than write. Write every day!
Excerpted from Something to Declare Copyright (c) 1998 Julia Alvarez. Reprinted by permission of Algonquin.
Meet the Author
Julia Alvarez left the Dominican Republic for the United States in 1960 at the age of ten. 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 theWorld, 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.
- Middlebury, Vermont
- Date of Birth:
- March 27, 1950
- Place of Birth:
- New York, New York
- B.A., Middlebury College, 1971; M.F.A., Syracuse University, 1975
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Alvarez writes with a kindness and wit that combined, make for a very nice read. Definitely a feel-gooder
Julia Alvarez lays it all out for those of us who love her writing...She is true to life and inspirational...