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The Big Read: In the Time of the Butterflies  

The Library is pleased to present you with additional resources related to "In the Time of the Butterflies" by Julia Alvarez. This book is the 2013 selection for The Big Read at Columbia College Chicago.
Last Updated: Mar 20, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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  • "A Country Study: Dominican Republic."
    Information from the website of The Library of Congress.
  • Learn to Question
    A website created by the Mirabal Sisters Foundation.
  • Dominican Republic, U.S. Department of State
    The Dominican Republic covers the eastern two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. The capital city is Santo Domingo, located on the south coast of the island. Tourist facilities vary according to price and location. Spanish is the official language. Though English is widely spoken in major cities and tourist areas, it is much less common outside these areas. Read the Department of State Background Notes on the Dominican Republic for additional information.
  • Dominican Republic World Factbook published by the C.I.A.
    The World Factbook (also known as the CIA World Factbook) is an annual publication of the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. The Factbook provides a two- to three-page summary of the demographics, geography, communications, government, economy, and military of 266 U.S.-recognized countries, dependencies, and other areas in the world.

    The World Factbook is prepared by the CIA for the use of U.S. government officials, and its style, format, coverage and content are primarily designed to meet their requirements. However, it is frequently used as a resource for student papers, web sites and non-governmental publications. As a work of the U.S. government, it is in the public domain.

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Works by Julia Alvarez

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A Cafecito Story - Julia Alvarez
ISBN: 1931498008
Publication Date: 2001-10-01
In this book Julia Alvarez brings a story of transformation, a story whose time is now. Joe, a Nebraska farm boy, becomes a teacher, marries and gets transplanted to the city. Unhappy with his life, he takes off to the Dominican Republic on a Christmas "package deal." It doesn't take him long to discover that he must explore on his own to know the true paisaje de Republica Dominicana. Thus, his story of soul-searching begins. The market-driven economic model of free-trade has put small family farmers and the ecology of coffee growing regions in serious danger.

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How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents - Julia Alvarez
ISBN: 0945575572
Publication Date: 1999-01-01
In the 1960s, political tension forces the García family away from Santo Domingo and towards the Bronx. The sisters all hit their strides in America, adapting and thriving despite cultural differences, language barriers, and prejudice. But Mami and Papi are more traditional, and they have far more difficulty adjusting to their new country. Making matters worse, the girls--frequently embarrassed by their parents--find ways to rebel against them.

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In the Name of Salomé - Julia Alvarez
ISBN: 0452282438
Publication Date: 2001-06-01
"The story of my life starts with the story of my country... ." Thus begins Julia Alvarez's epic fictional account of the real-life Salomé Ureña-the "Emily Dickinson of the Dominican Republic." Born in the 1850s, in a time of intense political repression and turmoil, Salomé's fervent patriotic poems turned her-at seventeen-into a national icon. In the Name of Salomé is equally the story of Salomé's daughter, Camila, who grows up in exile, in the shadow of her mother's legend. Shy and self-effacing, Camila's life is in stark contrast to Salomé's. While her mother dedicated her brief life to educating Dominican girls to serve their struggling new nation, Camila spent her career explaining the Spanish pluperfect to upper-class American girls. But when, at age sixty-six, Camila makes a decision to leave her comfortable life behind and join Castro's revolution in Cuba, she begins a journey to make peace with her past-and bring the lives of two remarkable women full circle.

Spanning more than a century, In the Name of Salomé proves Alvarez equally adept at capturing the sweep of history and the most intimate details of women's lives and hearts. It is Alvarez's richest and most inspiring novel to date.

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In the Time of the Butterflies - Julia Alvarez
ISBN: 9781565129764
Publication Date: 2010-01-12
"It is November 25, 1960, and three beautiful sisters have been found dead near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. The official state newspaper reports their death as accidental. It does not mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among the leading opponents of Gen. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo’s dictatorship. It doesn’t have to. Everybody knows of Las Mariposas--the Butterflies. In this extraordinary nove, the voices of all four sisters--Minerva, Patria, María Teresa, and the survivor, Dedé--speak across the decades to tell their own stories, from hair ribbons and secret crushes to gunrunning and prison torture, and to describe the everyday horrors of life under Trujillo’s rule. Through the art and magic of Julia Alvarez’s imagination, the martyred Butterflies live again in this novel of courage, love, and the human cost of political oppression"--Cover, p. 4.

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Once upon a Quinceanera - Julia Alvarez
ISBN: 9780670038732
Publication Date: 2007-08-02
The quinceañera, the fifteenth birthday celebration for a Latina girl, is quickly becoming an American event. This legendary party is a sight to behold: lavish ball gowns, extravagant catered meals, DJs, limousines, and multi-tiered cakes. The must-haves for a "quince" are becoming as numerous and costly as a prom or wedding. And yet, this elaborate ritual also hearkens back to traditions from native countries and communities, offering young Latinas a chance to connect with their heritage. Writer Alvarez explores this celebration that brings a Latina girl into womanhood, attending the quince of a young woman in Queens, and weaving in interviews with other quince girls, her own memories of coming of age as an immigrant, and the history of the custom itself. The result is an enlightening, accessible, and entertaining portrait of contemporary Latino culture.--From publisher description.

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Return to Sender - Julia Alvarez
ISBN: 9780375958380
Publication Date: 2009-01-13
After his family hires migrant Mexican workers to help save their Vermont farm from foreclosure, eleven-year-old Tyler befriends the oldest daughter, but when he discovers they may not be in the country legally, he realizes that real friendship knows no borders.

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Saving the World - Julia Alvarez
ISBN: 156512510X
Publication Date: 2006-04-07
Latina novelist Alma Huebner is suffering from writer's block and is years past the completion date for yet another of her bestselling family sagas. Her husband, Richard, works for a humanitarian organization dedicated to the health and prosperity of developing countries and wants her help on an extended AIDS assignment in the Dominican Republic. But Alma begs off joining him: the publisher is breathing down her neck. She promises to work hard and follow him a bit later.

The truth is that Alma is seriously sidetracked by a story she has stumbled across. It's the story of a much earlier medical do-gooder, Spaniard Francisco Xavier Balmis, who in 1803 undertook to vaccinate the populations of Spain's American colonies against smallpox. To do this, he required live "carriers" of the vaccine.

Of greater interest to Alma is Isabel Sendales y Gómez, director of La Casa de Expósitos, who was asked to select twenty-two orphan boys to be the vaccine carriers. She agreed- with the stipulation that she would accompany the boys on the proposed two-year voyage. Her strength and courage inspire Alma, who finds herself becoming obsessed with the details of Isabel's adventures.

This resplendent novel-within-a-novel spins the disparate tales of two remarkable women, both of whom are swept along by machismo. In depicting their confrontation of the great scourges of their respective eras, Alvarez exposes the conflict between altruism and ambition.

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Something to Declare - Julia Alvarez
ISBN: 1565121937
Publication Date: 2004-01-01
This first collection of essays, some previously published, by award-winning Hispanic American author Alvarez ranges freely between her life as a child displaced by her family's flight from the Dominican Republic and her development as a writer. In two sections, she explores childhood memories of trying to become part of American society, her developing interest in writing‘ encountering encouragement from a teacher and some discouragement from her family‘and the road to becoming a full-time writer. Along the way, she offers comments on teaching‘repeating Roethke's saying that teaching is "one of the few professions that permit love"‘and some advice for young writers, including the idea that "we are here to learn a craft that truly takes all of life to learn." This collection will be of interest to both public and academic libraries.‘Nancy Shires, East Carolina Univ., Greenville, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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The Other Side - Julia Alvarez
ISBN: 0525939229
Publication Date: 1995-06-01
The New York Times Book Review has praised Julia Alvarez's fiction as "powerful...beautifullycaptures the threshold experience of the new immigrant where the past is not yet a memory and the futureremains an anxious dream." These same qualities characterize her poetry--from the "Making Up the Past"poems, which explore a life of exile as lived by a young girl, to "the Joe Poems," a series of wonderfullysensual and funny love poems celebrating a middle-aged romance. The collection culminates in the twentyone-part title poem about the poet's return to her native Dominican Republic and the internal conflict andultimate affirmation that journey occasioned. Bold innovation and invention, the interplay of sound and sense, and the rhythm of two languages all characterize Julia Alvarez's art in transforming precious memory intounforgettable poetry.

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The Woman I Kept to Myself - Julia Alvarez
ISBN: 1565124065
Publication Date: 2004-01-04
The works of award-winning poet and novelist Julia Alvarez are rich with the language and influences of two cultures: the Dominican Republic of her childhood and the America of her youth and adulthood. They have shaped her writing just as they have shaped her life. Since her first celebrated novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, she has been articulating the passions and opinions of sisters and aunts, mothers and daughters, heroines and martyrs. In The Woman I Kept to Myself, seventy-five poems that weave together the narrative of a woman's inner life, it is Julia Alvarez's own clear voice that sings out in every line. These are not poems of a woman discovering herself--Alvarez might say that's what her twenties were for--but of a woman returning to herself. Now, in the middle of her life, she looks back as a way of understanding and celebrating the woman she has become. And she hides nothing: from her early marriages to her late-in-life love, from the politics that informed her to the prejudice that haunts her still. Her fears, her accomplishments, and the ready humor that permeates even her darkest thoughts are all proffered to the reader. Perhaps the truest words to describe this remarkable collection are the two that give the last section its title: keeping watch. We are pulled into the intimate circle of a woman who keeps us company by sharing the stories and insights that we often keep to ourselves.


General Info

If you're interested in finding out more about the Dominican Republic, check out this selection of fiction and non-fiction books covering such topics as history, travel, art, music and politics.

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Quisqueya la Bella - Alan Cambeira
ISBN: 1563249359
Publication Date: 1996-11-01
An introductory overview of the culture, history, and politics of the Dominican Republic integrating a sociohistorical examination of the Dominican culture's evolution with an emphasis on the ethnic diversity that constitutes its identity. Cambeira (Clark Atlanta U.) underlines his scholarly research with "field" experience, breathing contemporary life into historical topics such as the indigenous and Spanish heritages of the Dominican Republic, the rise and decline of sugar trading, slave economies in Hispaniola, the causes and effects of the Haitian revolution, and life after independence. The appendices supply information about the Quisqueya language, national treasures, and the Dominican flag. Includes maps. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

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Trujillo: The Death of the Goat - Bernard Diederich
ISBN: 0943862442
Publication Date: 1999-05-01
A megalomaniac with an enormous sexual appetite, Generalissimo Trujillo, president/dictator of the Dominican Republic, expected as a matter of course to harvest the virgin daughters of loyal friends, although he might at any moment order a genuinely loyal officer boiled alive and exhibited as a disgraced enemy. He ordered 20,000 black Haitians slaughtered for squatting in his country (a Negrophobe, he had Negro blood in his veins). He owned 60% of his country's land, and the treasury. He revamped the country and cities into his own image, changing Santo Domingo to Ciudad Trujillo, erecting hundreds of statues to himself--even having neon signs in the capital blinking GOD AND TRUJILLO. On his silver anniversary he renamed a major avenue after his buxom 16-year-old daughter Queen Angelita I and outfitted her in an $80,000 white satin gown with a 75-foot train of Russian ermine. He was crazy. And on May 30, 1961 he was assassinated by the de la Maza family. The root of his assassination grew from a murder he'd ordered four years earlier, and in covering up that murder he'd had two more men murdered, including young Tavito de la Maza. This slowly nudged the wild de la Mazas into a conspiracy that is grippingly analyzed here and which reveals the shilly-shallying of the US and the CIA--we backed the dictator but at last supplied (then partly withdrew) weapons with which to kill him. His murder of three highly attractive sisters who refused his advances steeled the conspirators' resolve (""it did something to their machismo""). But after the killing, no coup d'etat followed. Trujillo's son Ramfis took over and the conspirators were massacred. Straightforward and styleless, but a strong pulse throughout. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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Dominican Republic in Focus - David Howard
ISBN: 1566562430
Publication Date: 1999-01-01
Currently one of the biggest tourist destinations in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic has much more to offer than its idyllic beaches. "Dominican Republic in Focus" is a authoritative and up-to-date guide to this vibrant country. It explores the land, history and politics, economy, society and people, culture and includes tips on where to go and what to see. Photos and maps.

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The Farming of Bones - Edwidge Danticat
ISBN: 0140280499
Publication Date: 1999-09-01
The Farming of Bones begins in 1937 in a village on the Dominican side of the river that separates the country from Haiti. Amabelle Desir, Haitian-born and a faithful maidservant to the Dominican family that took her in when she was orphaned, and her lover Sebastien, an itinerant sugarcane cutter, decide they will marry and return to Haiti at the end of the cane season. However, hostilities toward Haitian laborers find a vitriolic spokesman in the ultra nationalist Generalissimo Trujillo who calls for an ethnic cleansing of his Spanish speaking country. As rumors of Haitian persecution become fact, as anxiety turns to terror, Amabelle and Sebastien's dreams are leveled to the most basic human desire: to endure. Based on a little known historical event, this extraordinarily moving novel memorializes the forgotten victims of nationalist madness and the deeply felt passion and grief of its survivors.

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The Dominican People: A Documentary People - Ernesto Sag'as (Editor); Orlando Inoa (Editor)
ISBN: 1558762965
Publication Date: 2003-02-01
This book provides an annotated collection of documents related to the history of the Dominican Republic and its people. The compilation covers some of the turning points and major topics in the island's history since pre-Columbian times: the extermination of the Talno Indians, sugar and African slavery, the establishment of French Saint Dominique, independence from Haiti and from Spain, caudillo politics, U.S. interventionism, the Trujillo dictatorship, and contemporary politics.

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Race and Politics in the Dominican Republic - Ernesto Sagas
ISBN: 0813017637
Publication Date: 2000-04-21
Ernesto Sagas examines the historical development and political use of antihaitianismo, a set of racist and xenophobic attitudes prevalent today in the Dominican Republic that broadly portray Dominican people as white Catholics, while Haitians are viewed as spirit-worshipping black Africans. More than just a ploy to generate patriotism and rally against a neighboring country, the ideology also is used by Dominican leaders to divide their own lower classes.

Sagas looks at the notions of race held by Dominican elites in their creation of an imaginary "white" nation, particularly as the ideas were developed throughout the colonial era, then intellectually refined in the late 19th century, and later exalted to a state ideology during the Trujillo era. Finally, he examines how race and nationalist anti-Haitian feelings still are manipulated by conservative politicians and elites who seek to maintain the status quo, drawing on examples from recent political rhetoric and cartoons, campaign advertisements, and public school history textbooks.

The first book-length study of antihaitianismo, this work offers important lessons for studying racial and ethnic conflict as well as nationalism and comparative politics.

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Dominican Republic: A National History - Frank Moya Pons
ISBN: 9781558765191
Publication Date: 2010-01-01
This updated and expanded edition extends the narrative from 1990 to the first decade of the present century, beginning with the collapse of the Dominican economy. In addition to the electoral fraud and constitutional reforms of 1994 and the return administration of Leonel Fernandez, the updated chapters focus on financial crises, the economic reforms of the 1990s, the free trade agreement with the United States, and party politics. They also take account of the recent Dominican electoral processes, the colossal and fraudulent banking crisis of 2002-2004, and the perpetuation of corruption as part of Dominican political culture.

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The Dominican Republic: A Caribbean Crucible - Howard J. Wiarda; Michael J. Kryzanek
ISBN: 0813382351
Publication Date: 1992-10-19
A balanced introduction that captures both the unique qualities of the Dominican experience and the aspects which are representative of the minor Latin American states generally. This revised and updated edition (first was in 1982) examines the changing character of governance, politics, economy, critical policy issues, fiscal reform, trade relations, and global and regional ties. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

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The Art of the Taino from the Dominican Republic - John F. Scott
ISBN: 0813008239
Publication Date: 1985-03-01

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Importancia del contexto histórico en el desarrollo del arte dominicano : cronología del arte dominicano, 1844-2005 - Miller, Jeannette
ISBN: 9993467294
Publication Date: 2006
Major reference work on Dominican visual art and its evolution throughout the last 3 centuries. The book is divided in 4 sections: an introductory essay with a synthesis of the Dominican artists development in recent history; an historic time frame highlighting the artistic movements and styles and a third section with a chronology of Dominican art following the historic, political, economic and cultural events of the studied period. Finally a fourth section includes more than 300 brief biographies of the mentioned artists with selected illustrations of their work. The book is the first number of a series of published studies part of the educational policy of the present government. OCLC summary

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Merengue and Dominican Identity - Julie A. Sellers
ISBN: 078641815X
Publication Date: 2004-10-01
The merengue is internationally recognized as the Dominican Republic's national dance. It is an integral and unifying element of Dominican identity both within that nation and among emigrants abroad. Although Dominicans often make the claim that merengue has always been in their blood, the dance is relatively young, and its popularity among Dominicans of all social classes and ages is an even more recent occurrence.
This book presents three convincing arguments about the merengue's longevity as a unifying symbol of Dominican identity: Dominican identity and the merengue have necessarily been extremely fluid in order to encompass the different cultural and ethnic groups present; historically, the merengue has become a stronger identity symbol when the nation is or is perceived to be threatened from outside; and the white, Catholic, Hispanic Dominican has long been held as the "true" Dominican identity, causing the dance to become progressively "whitened" in terms of performers and style to reflect this notion and gain wider appeal at home and abroad. A map of the Dominican Republic, related photographs of key figures of Dominican history and merengue artists across the decades, and a complete bibliography are included.

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The Devil Behind the Mirror - Globalization and Politics in the Dominican Republic - Steven Gregory
ISBN: 0520247272
Publication Date: 2006-12-04
In The Devil behind the Mirror, Steven Gregory provides a compelling and intimate account of the impact that transnational processes associated with globalization are having on the lives and livelihoods of people in the Dominican Republic. Grounded in ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the adjacent towns of Boca Chica and Andres, Gregory's study deftly demonstrates how transnational flows of capital, culture, and people are mediated by contextually specific power relations, politics, and history. He explores such topics as the making of a telenova, sex tourism, and racism and discrimination against Haitians, who occupy the lowest rung on the Dominican economic ladder. Innovative and beautifully written, The Devil behind the Mirror masterfully situates the analysis of global economic change in everyday lives.


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