Julia Alvarez - at Town Hall Theater

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Our hometown treasure and National Medal of Arts recipient Julia Alvarez will appear in conversation with New England Review editor and Carolyn Kuebler to discuss her recently published novel, The Cemetery of Untold Stories. 

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 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 soon begin to defy their author: they talk back to her and talk to one another behind her back, rewriting and revising themselves. Filomena, a local woman hired as the groundskeeper, becomes a sympathetic listener to the secret tales unspooled by Alma's characters. Among them, Bienvenida, dictator Rafael Trujillo's abandoned wife who was erased from the official history, and Manuel Cruz, a doctor who fought in the Dominican underground and escaped to the United States.

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. Julia Alvarez reminds us 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.

Carolyn Kuebler was a co-founder of the literary journal Rain Taxi and is now the editor of the award-winning New England Review. Her stories and essays have been published in The Common and Colorado Review, among others, and "Wildflower Season," published in The Massachusetts Review, won the 2022 John Burroughs Award for Nature Essays. She lives in Middlebury, Vermont, where she enjoys bird-watching and cross-country skiing. Liquid, Fragile, Perishable is her first novel.

Event date: 
Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
Town Hall Theater
68 S Pleasant St.
Middlebury, VT 05753
Staff Pick Badge
The Cemetery of Untold Stories: A Novel By Julia Alvarez Cover Image
ISBN: 9781643753843
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books - April 2nd, 2024

Cemetery of Untold Stories \ El cementerio de los cuentos sin contar (Sp. ed.) By Julia Alvarez, Mercedes Guhl Corpas (Translated by) Cover Image
By Julia Alvarez, Mercedes Guhl Corpas (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780063316645
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperCollins Espanol - April 2nd, 2024

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