Any discussion on the greatest names in Latin American literature has to include Julia Alvarez in the same breath. Widely regarded as one of the best Latina writers in the world, Alvarez has set the tone for Hispanic historical fiction for the better part of the last quarter-century. Though born in the U.S., Alvarez relied heavily on her experiences growing up in the Dominican Republic, where her father played a role in an attempted rebellion.
Many of Alvarez’s books feature female protagonists. Her novels, such as How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (1991) and In the Time of the Butterflies (1994), built upon the successful groundwork laid in the 1980’s by several prominent feminist authors. Isabel Allende’s House of the Spirits (1982), Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (1982), The Mists of Avalon (1983) by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) by Margaret Atwood represented the boom period of the genre. Alvarez’s works are some of the best-selling titles to date, as evidenced by a successful movie adaptation of Butterflies in 2001. She continues to keep women in the leading role on the page, on the big screen, and in the literary world.