Julia Alvarez

Literary Birthday – 27 March – Julia Alvarez

Happy Birthday, Julia Alvarez, born 27 March 1950.


  1. A novel is not, after all, a historical document, but a way to travel through the human heart.
  2. But the sensibility of the writer, whether fiction or poetry, comes from paying attention. I tell my students that writing doesn’t begin when you sit down to write. It’s a way of being in the world, and the essence of it is paying attention.
  3. Literature is about being a complex, contradictory human being.
  4. Everyone needs a strong sense of self. It is our base of operations for everything that we do in life.
  5. When I’m asked what made me into a writer, I point to the watershed experience of coming to this country. Not understanding the language, I had to pay close attention to each word — great training for a writer. I also discovered the welcoming world of the imagination and books. There, I sunk my new roots.
  6. I write to find out what I’m thinking. I write to find out who I am. I write to understand things.
  7. It’s like my whole world is coming undone, but when I write, my pencil is a needle and thread, and I’m stitching the scraps back together.
  8. A book does not discriminate against any reader. All are welcome at the table of literature.
  9. Reading and thoughtfulness and openness are the best way, I should think, to begin to address the richness that is in each of us.
  10. The elasticity of imagination and compassion is what writing and reading promote.

Julia Alvarez is a Dominican-American poet, novelist, and essayist. Born in New York of Dominican descent, she spent the first ten years of her life in the Dominican Republic, before returning to the US. Her novels include How the García Girls Lost Their Accents and In the Time of the Butterflies.

Source for image: via Author’s Agent / Credit: Bill Eichner

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 27th March 2014