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Does Julia Alvarez ever tire of being classified as “a Latina writer”? The author of the novel How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books, 1991) says she’s proud to be part of a chorus of multicultural voices in America, though she adds it’s “sometimes not so much a chorus but a shouting match.” In her early work, she felt pressure to translate the events of her life into American experiences. “I thought that’s what you had to do…. I was pre-multicultural,” Alvarez says.

Alvarez’s Dominican roots are at the heart of her latest novel, ¡Yo! (Algonquin, 1997), which revisits the life of Yolanda, one of her celebrated Garcia girls.

Mother Jones asked Alvarez what music and literature she’s enjoyed lately. Here’s what she had to say about Grandes Exitos de Juan Luis Guerra (Karen Publishing, 1996), “radical merengue” from Guerra and the Dominican group 4 40:

“They’ve taken merengue, our traditional kind of music, but they’ve made it kind of contemporary and politicized it. It ends up being a very powerful statement about poverty in the countryside.”

Also recommended by Alvarez:

DrownDrown (New York: Riverhead Books, 1996) by Dominican author Junot Díaz. “The collection is Díaz’s first. He’s really part of the next wave, the next generation coming up of such powerful writers. For me, to hear the Dominican rhythms and street talk in English was wonderful.”

Elizabeth Bishop--Complete PoemsComplete Poems: 1927-1979 (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1990) by Elizabeth Bishop. “I love how she’s able to write in form, with such control and yet such a wonderful, casual, observing voice. Bishop lived in Brazil for over 20 years. She’s got this mixed vision of her experience in Brazil with an American sensibility that is wonderful.”

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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