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Julia Alvarez ’71 and Edwidge Danticat will discuss contemporary issues in a reading and conversation on March 16 at Dana Auditorium.

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Authors Julia Alvarez and Edwidge Danticat to Speak at Middlebury

March 7, 2016


MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Two important contemporary authors will share the stage in an evening of conversation at Middlebury College on March 16 at 7 p.m. in Dana Auditorium. In an event titled “Scheherazade’s Sisters,” Middlebury alumna and 2013 Medal of Arts winner Julia Alvarez and acclaimed Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat will discuss a variety of topics including the art and power of story telling across different geographical landscapes, cross-culturally and trans-nationally, feminism, and their collaboration in organizations such as Border of Lights. The discussion is free and open to the public.

“This is a rare and wonderful opportunity for our community to hear from–and engage with–two distinguished writers who have done so much to shape our thinking about story telling, cultural identity, feminism, and many other topics,” said Darién J. Davis, professor of history and one of the event’s organizers.

“These two authors offer the opportunity to think through the ways in which migration and the mobility of peoples have helped cultivate new communities, new creative energies, and new forms of solidarity,” added Sujata Moorti, professor of gender, sexuality, and feminist studies. “They have simultaneously enlivened the stories that circulate in contemporary U.S. culture.”

Alvarez, a native of the Dominican Republic, earned her bachelor's degree at Middlebury in 1971. She is the author of numerous books, including the acclaimed How The García Girls Lost Their Accents and In the Time of the Butterflies, and the nonfiction book, A Wedding in Haiti: The Story of a Friendship. Alvarez joined the Middlebury English department faculty in 1988 and was made full professor in 1996. In 1998, she gave up her tenured post to focus on writing, but has maintained a relationship with the College as writer in residence. She plans to retire this spring.

Edwidge Danticat is a recipient of the American Book Award for The Farming of Bones (1999), the National Book Critics Circle Award for Brother, I’m Dying (2007), and a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2009. She is a graduate of Barnard College and earned her MFA at Brown University. Danticat’s critically acclaimed works also  include Breath, Eyes, Memory, Krik? Krak!, The Dew Breaker, and a collection of essays titled Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. Her picture book, Mama’s Nightingale and a young adult novel, Untwine, were both published in 2015.

“I am a generation ahead of Edwidge Danticat, though I feel a sense of continuity with her,” said Alvarez. “Edwidge is one of the great American writers, on a par with Toni Morrison. She conceptualizes America as a hemisphere, rather than just the United States. She will connect with our students who are addressing injustices so vocally at this moment and are forcing the institution to look at the issue of diversity.” 

Edwidge Danticat will read from her work and the two authors will follow with a discussion. The event will take place on Wednesday, March 16, at 7 p.m. in Dana Auditorium, located on College Street (Route 125) in Middlebury. The event is free and open to the public.