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Julia Alvarez’s New Novel ‘Afterlife’ Touches on the Immigrant Experience

I’ve been a big fan of Dominican writer Julia Alvarez ever since I read her book, In The Time of The Butterflies, which tells the story of the Mirabel sisters who actively rebelled against Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. You could imagine how psyched I was when I learned that she’s set to release a new novel titled Afterlife, that will be published next April.

Algonquin Books made the announcement on Tuesday. The new novel focuses on a writer and professor named Antonia Vega, who has just retired from the college where she taught English when her husband suddenly dies. The story centers on her grieving his death and her sister’s disappearance while encountering a pregnant and undocumented migrant teenage girl, that makes her begin to question her own identity and her background as an immigrant. According to reports, Alvarez wanted to explore happens when a person begins to experience “that the world demands more of her than words.”

The timing of this novel couldn’t come at a better time with our current political climate and conversations around immigration and the migrant concentration camps continuing to circulate. Elections will also be taking place next year with the book coming out just a few months before. Being an immigrant in a new country very much impacts one’s identity and it’s important to highlight those stories — now more than ever.

Alvarez who is best known for her novels In The Time of The Butterflies, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, and Once Upon a Quinceañera, hasn’t released an adult novel since Saving the World in 2006. Her last published book was her travel memoir A Wedding in Haiti: The Story of a Friendship, which she released in 2012. A lot of the works she’s recently published has targeted young readers like her 2016 picture book Where Do They Go, so I’m beyond excited for her new release. I don’t know about you, but this one is definitely going down on my bucket list.

Afterlife doesn’t come out until April 7, 2020, but is already available for pre-order. I’m just saying!