“A gorgeously intimate portrait of an immigrant writer and recent widow carving out hope in the face of personal and political grief.”—O, The Oprah Magazine "[Alvarez] reaps the fruits of her earlier literary efforts . . . Afterlife is anchored not just in easy humor and sharp observation, but in her fine-tuned sense for the intimacies of immigrant sisterhood.”—The New York Times Book Review “Resonant . . . The novel, set in 2019, poses questions about American immigration and mental-health policies, and it is a moving exploration of the ways we inadvertently fail the people we love."—The New Yorker “A sweeping tour de force . . . One of the most significant Latina writers of her time.”—Entertainment Weekly “A beautifully written novel with a timely theme.”—People "Alvarez probes the contours of private moral decisions that echo our national conversation, which excludes migrant communities from claiming their contributions to our country. Afterlife will resonate with many readers in this era of social distance and anticipatory mourning."—The Washington Post "Alvarez crafts a moving portrait of the lengths people will go to help one another in moments of uncertainty."—Time “More than a few of Julia Alvarez’s peers must be shaking their heads that she can take almost 15 years off from writing adult fiction and come back with a novel as striking and lovely as Afterlife . . . [A] stunning novel.”—The Associated Press "Full of unexpected delights . . . [a] sunburst of a novel about family, immigration, love and moral choices.”—The San Francisco Chronicle “Skillfully executed, Afterlife is a compassionately political look at how we view the workers whom we gladly exploit, the immigration crisis, what we owe ourselves, and what we owe each other as a community. [Afterlife] displays Alvarez's poetic hyper-awareness of lyricism and word choice, and her ability to create moments that are simultaneously poignant and hilarious showcase this mastery.”—Salon.com "The bestselling Dominican American author of In the Time of the Butterflies tackles weighty issues with a nice touch of humor in her new novel (which is on the shorter side, for anyone not in the mood for a big read)."—AARP.org “A stunning work of art that reminds readers Alvarez is, and always has been, in a class of her own.”—Elizabeth Acevedo, National Book Award-winning author of the New York Times bestseller The Poet X“First, let’s acknowledge the fact that a new novel by Julia Alvarez . . .is major news. Second, and more importantly, her new adult novel is really good!—BuzzFeed, "24 New Books We Couldn't Put Down" "[A] remarkable and nuanced novel exploring immigration, humanity and compassion in a bitter and fractured world.”—Ms. Magazine “Afterlife is a succinct and powerful novel about human connection. Alvarez is a writer in full command of her form, reminding the world of her vast and venerable talent.”—Shelf Awareness, starred review “Alvarez’s prose is magnetic as she delves into the intricacies of sisterhood, immigration, and grief, once again proving her mastery as a storyteller. This stirring novel reminds readers that actions (big and small) have a lasting impact—so they should always act with love.” —Library Journal, starred review “A funny, moving novel of loss and love . . . Alvarez writes with knowing warmth about how well sisters know how to push on each other's bruises and how powerfully they can lift each other up. In this bighearted novel, family bonds heal a woman's grief.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review "A charming novel of immigration, loss, and love." —Booklist, starred review “In one moving scene after another, Alvarez dramatizes the sustaining power of stories, whether for immigrants in search of a better life or for widows surviving a spouse’s death. True to its title, Afterlife cannily explores what it means to go on after a loss . . .This is a beautiful book.” —BookPage, starred review “Alvarez’s poignant return to adult fiction . . . raises powerful questions about the care people owe themselves and others . . . Alvarez blends light humor with deep empathy toward her characters, offering a convincing portrait of an older woman’s self discovery. This will satisfy her fans and earn new ones.”—Publishers Weekly “The In the Time of the Butterflies icon makes a satisfying and long-awaited return to adult fiction with this kind tale of grief and sisterhood. …deeply poignant."—Entertainment Weekly “A tart, lovely book about rising to the challenge of understanding and accepting others.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer, "Spring 2020’s Best Books" "This timely novel explores how we’re all responsible for the world we live in, and how our lives can and must begin again."—St. Louis Magazine "It’s a slim book that begins in tragedy and searches for a way out."—The San Antonio Express-News “The queen is back with the exact novel we need in this fraught era. A powerful testament of witness and humanity written with audacity and authority.”—Luis Alberto Urrea, bestselling author of The House of Broken Angels “Ravishing and heartfelt, Afterlife explores the complexities of familial devotion and tragedy against a backdrop of a world in crisis, and the ways in which we struggle to maintain hope, faith, compassion and love. This is Julia Alvarez at her best and most personal.” —Jonathan Santlofer, author of The Widower's Notebook “From the very beginning, Julia Alvarez has proven herself a wise and funny writer with a sharp eye and ear for the joys and obligations of love and family. Now, in Afterlife, she applies her gifts to last things, as her Antonia struggles to move beyond the consolations of poetry and embrace the buzzing, blooming confusion of the world again.” —Stewart O’Nan, author of Emily, Alone and Henry, Himself “This novel gives the immigration debate a deeply human face, chronicling the story of a recently bereaved retiree who takes in a pregnant and undocumented teenager.”—Vogue, "41 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2020" "A book that strives to elevate from the anger and tribalism of our times, Afterlife wonders aloud about the obligations we owe to our human family."—Goodreads, "33 Highly Anticipated Books of 2020"
In this return to adult fiction by Alvarez (How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents), a retired English professor and writer is caught between her sisters' drama and the plight of a pregnant undocumented young women—all in the wake of her husband's death. Antonia Vega is still grieving for Sam a year after his fatal car accident, getting by with the help of aphorisms from her favorite poets. When eldest sister, Izzy, disappears during a manic episode, her Dominican sisterhood convenes, bringing along their usual baggage. Meanwhile, a documented worker from the neighboring farm seeks Antonia's help in finding a place for his pregnant girlfriend. Antonia navigates these tumultuous occurrences with Sam and what he would do as her guiding principle. In this life after his death, the protagonist realizes that the best way to memorialize her husband is to embody what she loved most about him. Alvarez's prose is magnetic as she delves into the intricacies of sisterhood, immigration, and grief, once again proving her mastery as a storyteller. This stirring novel reminds readers that actions (big and small) have a lasting impact—so they should always act with love. VERDICT An incisive book that will burrow itself into people's hearts and stay long after they've turned the last page. [See Prepub Alert, 10/7/19.]—Shelley M. Diaz, BookOps, New York P.L. & Brooklyn P.L.
One of the best chroniclers of sisterhood returns with a funny, moving novel of loss and love.
This is the first novel in 15 years from Alvarez (How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, 1991, etc.), and she builds on one of her strengths, depicting the complex relationships among sisters. Her main character is Antonia Vega, who, as the story begins, is stunned with grief. A year before, she and her husband, Sam, were driving separately to a restaurant dinner near their Vermont home to celebrate her retirement when he suffered a fatal aneurysm. Bereft of a beloved spouse and done with a rewarding career as a college professor and novelist, she's adrift and "has withdrawn from every narrative, including the ones she makes up for sale." Then need comes knocking in the form of an undocumented Mexican worker at her neighbor's dairy farm. Antonia emigrated long ago from the Dominican Republic, and young Mario seeks her help (and translation skills) in reuniting with his fiancee, Estela, who is also undocumented and stranded in Colorado. Antonia is hesitant. Sam, a doctor who was widely beloved for his volunteer work and empathy, would have done all he could, she knows: "He was the bold one. She, the reluctant activist…." In the meantime, Antonia sets off to celebrate her 66th birthday with her three sisters. The two younger ones, Tilly and Mona, are as contentious and loving as ever, Tilly a font of oddly apropos malapropisms such as "That bitch was like a wolf in cheap clothing!" But all of them are worried about their oldest sister, Izzy, a retired therapist who recently has been behaving erratically. When her phone goes dead and she fails to arrive for the party, the other sisters swing into action. Izzy's fate will take surprising turns, as will the relationship between Mario and Estela, as Antonia tries to figure out what she can do for all of them and for herself. Alvarez writes with knowing warmth about how well sisters know how to push on each other's bruises and how powerfully they can lift each other up.
In this bighearted novel, family bonds heal a woman's grief.