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Join us on Wednesday, April 17 at 7 PM at the First Congregational Church at the Center in South Hadley as Julia Alvarez presents her new novel, The Cemetery of Lost Stories. She will be joined in conversation by Ginetta Candelario.
Literary icon Julia Alvarez, the international bestselling author of In the Time of the Butterflies, returns with an inventive and emotional novel about storytelling that will be an instant classic.
Alma Cruz, the celebrated writer at the heart of The Cemetery of Untold Stories, doesn’t want to end up like her friend, a novelist who fought so long and hard to finish a book that it threatened her sanity. So when Alma inherits a small plot of land in the Dominican Republic, her homeland, she has the beautiful idea of turning it into a place to bury her untold stories—literally. She creates a graveyard for the manuscript drafts and revisions, and the characters whose lives she tried and failed to bring to life and who still haunt her.
Alma wants her characters to rest in peace. But they have other ideas, and the cemetery becomes a mysterious sanctuary for their true narratives. Filomena, a local woman hired as the groundskeeper, becomes a sympathetic listener as Alma’s characters unspool their secret tales. Among them: Bienvenida, the abandoned second wife of dictator Rafael Trujillo, consigned to oblivion by history, and Manuel Cruz, a doctor who fought in the Dominican underground and escaped to the United States.
The characters defy their author: they talk back to her and talk to one another behind her back, rewriting and revising themselves. The Cemetery of Untold Stories asks: Whose stories get to be told, and whose buried? Finally, Alma finds the meaning she and her characters yearn for in the everlasting vitality of stories.
Readers of Isabel Allende’s Violeta and Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead will devour Alvarez’s extraordinary new novel about beauty and authenticity, and will be reminded that the stories of our lives are never truly finished, even at the end.
Julia Alvarez left the Dominican Republic for the United States in 1960 at the age of ten. She is the author of six novels, three books of nonfiction, three collections of poetry, and eleven books for children and young adults. She has taught and mentored writers in schools and communities across America and, until her retirement in 2016, was a writer in residence at Middlebury College. Her work has garnered wide recognition, including a Latina Leader Award in Literature from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature, the Woman of the Year by Latina magazine, and inclusion in the New York Public Library’s program “The Hand of the Poet: Original Manuscripts by 100 Masters, from John Donne to Julia Alvarez.” In the Time of the Butterflies, with over one million copies in print, was selected by the National Endowment for the Arts for its national Big Read program, and in 2013 President Obama awarded Alvarez the National Medal of Arts in recognition of her extraordinary storytelling.
In addition to being a Professor of Sociology, Ginetta E.B. Candelario is a faculty affiliate of the Latin American and Latin@ Studies Program, the Study of Women and Gender Program, and the Community Engagement and Social Change Concentration. Her research interests include Dominican history and society, with a focus on national identity formation and women’s history; Blackness in the Americas; Latin American, Caribbean and Latina feminisms; Latina/o communities (particularly Cuban, Dominican and Puerto Rican); U.S. beauty culture; and museum studies. She has been a Fulbright Scholar in the Dominican Republic twice, in 2003 and 2016, and was the founding Vice President of the National Latin@ Studies Association (LSA and a founding executive committee member of the New England Consortium for Latina/o Studies (NECLS), as well as serving the American Sociological Association and the Latin American Studies Association in various elected and appointed capacities. Since 2017, she has been the Editor of Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, an interdisciplinary scholarly journal housed at Smith College and published by Duke University Press.
This event is free and open to the public but we ask that you register on Eventbrite by clicking here.