Skip to main content

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Something to Declare

1. Something to Declare is divided into two parts: Customs, and Declarations. Why do you think she structured the book in this way? How are the two sections different from each other, and in what ways do they work together?

2. Although Julia Alvarez writes in English and claims that she "is not a Dominican writer," can comparisons be made between her work and that of other Latin-American writers you have read? What authors come to mind?

3. Throughout Something to Declare Julia Alvarez invokes the names of English language authors to whom she feels a kinship. Are there other English language writers whose influences you see in her work?

4. In Something to Declare Julia Alvarez discusses her own writing techniques and methods of forming stories, as well as her belief in writing as a discipline that must be practiced every day. Do you find Alvarez's discussion of writing and the writing life inspiring, or daunting? What advice do you draw from this work?

5. Alvarez finds the subjects of her poems and fiction in unusual places: the 1961 Better Homes & Garden Sewing Book, the kitchen of a writing colony, etc. How does this approach differ from what you were taught or have come to expect from other writers' descriptions of their writing process?

6. Alvarez uses autobiographical information as a basis for the two essays, Family Matters and Grounds for Fiction. Specifically, how does she incorporate this material and use it to illustrate her points?  

Something to Declare
by Julia Alvarez

  • Publication Date: September 1, 1999
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Plume
  • ISBN-10: 0452280672
  • ISBN-13: 9780452280670