The celebrated author of In the Time of the Butterflies and How the García Girls Lost Their Accents is back with her first adult novel in almost fifteen years—and it’s a tour de force.

For Antonia Vega, the immigrant writer at the center of Afterlife, the rug has been pulled out from under her. She has just retired from the college where she taught English when her husband suddenly dies. Fiercely intelligent, sharply droll, and disinclined to engage, Antonia has always sought direction in the literature she has loved—lines from her favorite authors play in her head like a soundtrack. But when, on top of everything else, her bighearted but unstable sister disappears and a pregnant, undocumented migrant teenager appears on Antonia’s doorstep, she finds that the world demands more of her than words. 

Afterlife is a compact, nimble novel set in this political moment of tribalism and distrust, a novel that asks: What do we owe those in crisis in our families, including, maybe especially, members of our human family? How do we live in a broken world without losing faith in one another or ourselves? And how do we provide an afterlife for those glorious souls we have lost—so we stay true to everything they represent?

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Julia Alvarez

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Review quotes
“From the very beginning, Julia Alvarez has proven herself a wise and funny writer with a sharp eye and ear for the joys and obligations of love and family. Now, in Afterlife, she applies her gifts to last things, as her Antonia struggles to move beyond the consolations of poetry and embrace the buzzing, blooming confusion of the world again.”
Stewart O’Nan, author of Emily, Alone and Henry, Himself

“The queen is back with the exact novel we need in this fraught era. A powerful testament of witness and humanity written with audacity and authority.”
—Luis Alberto Urrea, bestselling author of The House of Broken Angels
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Publication date
April 07, 2020