Julia Alvarez: A Dominican in Haiti

Julia_Alvareza wedding in haitiJulia Alvarez is one of my favorite writers (my extremely biased perspective), ever since my college years when I discovered her novel, How the García Girls Lost their Accents. Born in New York City, her family spent her first ten years in the Dominican Republic, but forced to flee due to her father’s political actions.

Alvarez is the author of 19 books and offers the lens the Dominican American experience. Her work includes several novels, children’s books, poetry, a non-fiction account of quinceañera culture, and the story of the revolutionary Mirabal sisters in In the Time of the Butterflies, amongst others and her latest A Wedding in Haiti: The Story of a Friendship.

Julia Alvarez and I met at the Heathman Hotel in downtown Portland for a discussion on her adventure into Haiti for the purpose of attending the wedding of Piti, the Haitian boy who worked on her Alta Gracia coffee plantation. This was a promise made 8 years ago, now being fulfilled with no notice, not even documentation, revisiting a long, conflict-ridden relationship between Dominicans and Haitians while the country survived a terrible earthquake.

in-the-time-of-the-butterfliesWe also talked about the heroic actions of Dedé Mirabal, of the Mirabal sisters who took down the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo with their Mariposa movement. The sisters were assassinated and Dedé Mirabal was the only survivor, retelling the story of their family for over fifty years. In February of this year, she passed away.

This interview was featured on Dmae Roberts’ arts program, Stage & Studio on KBOO and KZME. The
featured music is from Piti himself!

Air Date: 4/15/2014 and 4/19/2014