“It is a beautiful book, well-worth your time to read, once it gets written for you to buy,” she said, jokingly.
She explained that the book touches on grieving and mourning. It features a character based on her father, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who arrived in the United States after joining secret efforts to overthrow the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo more than 50 years ago.
Hundreds of students, staff and faculty members attended the reading, which was followed by a question and answer session.
One attendee asked Alvarez about how the current political climate interferes with her creative process.
“I feel it’s really an important moment to connect and find each other and affirm the things that are important, that are 'the other' voices,” she said. “I think it’s also an impetus in that direction and the importance of getting the story told of people that aren’t capable of telling their stories.”
She advised aspiring storytellers to read as writers, analyzing the structure of the literature.
“It was incredibly inspiring to hear Julia Alvarez speak in her own words,” junior Diamond Brown said. “Her humor and wit was even more enthralling than I had ever read on my own.”
Authors for the Frank B. Hanes writer-in-residence are selected by a faculty committee from the Department of English and Comparative Literature. Gingher is on that committee.
“She’s a lovely, glamorous, fun, funny, self-deprecating, really kind human being,” Gingher said. “We need a human face in a difficult world.”
Gingher added Alvarez’s experience is also important for students to learn.
“Change takes time,” Gingher said. “It isn’t immediate; it takes time. I feel like young people are very impatient, so it’s important they hear her.”
Alvarez is the third Frank B. Hanes writer-in-residence, though UNC has had a writer-in-residence program since 1993. Past Frank B. Hanes authors were travel writer Ted Conover in 2017 and poet Natasha Tretheway in 2016.
There are three events lined up for the week. A panel on art and activism took place on Monday along with the annual reading on Tuesday. A conversation about writing on family will take place on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at the Donovan Lounge.