The Cemetery of Untold Stories

A Novel


By Julia Alvarez

Formats and Prices




$17.99 CAD



  1. ebook $13.99 $17.99 CAD
  2. Hardcover $28.00 $36.00 CAD

Literary icon and great American novelist Julia Alvarez, bestselling author of In the Time of the Butterflies and How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, returns with a luminescent novel about storytelling that reads like an instant classic.

“Only an alchemist as wise and sure as Alvarez could swirl the elements of folklore and the flavor of magical realism around her modern prose and make it all sing . . . Lively, joyous . . . often witty, occasionally somber and elegiac.” —Luis Alberto Urrea, The New York Times Book Review

"Engaging and written in a playful, crystal-clear prose, this novel explores friendship, love, sisterhood, living between cultures, and how people can be haunted by the things they don’t finish . . . Entertaining . . . Heartwarming." —Gabino Iglesias, The Boston Globe

**Named a Most Anticipated Book by the New York TimesWashington Post,, Goodreads, B&N ReadsLiterary Hub, HipLatinaBookPage,, Zibby Mag, and more**

Alma Cruz, the celebrated writer at the heart of The Cemetery of Untold Stories, doesn’t want to end up like her friend, a novelist who fought so long and hard to finish a book that it threatened her sanity. So when Alma inherits a small plot of land in the Dominican Republic, her homeland, she has the beautiful idea of turning it into a place to bury her untold stories—literally. She creates a graveyard for the manuscript drafts and the characters whose lives she tried and failed to bring to life and who still haunt her.

Alma wants her characters to rest in peace. But they have other ideas and soon begin to defy their author: they talk back to her and talk to one another behind her back, rewriting and revising themselves. Filomena, a local woman hired as the groundskeeper, becomes a sympathetic listener to the secret tales unspooled by Alma's characters. Among them, Bienvenida, dictator Rafael Trujillo's abandoned wife who was erased from the official history, and Manuel Cruz, a doctor who fought in the Dominican underground and escaped to the United States.
The Cemetery of Untold Stories asks: Whose stories get to be told, and whose buried? Finally, Alma finds the meaning she and her characters yearn for in the everlasting vitality of stories. Julia Alvarez reminds us that the stories of our lives are never truly finished, even at the end.

  • Named a Most Anticipated Book of the Year by the New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post,, Goodreads, Literary Hub, BookPage,, Book Riot, and Zibby Mag!

    "Hardcover Fiction Bestseller List – #7" - Boston Globe

    Announced as a Good Morning America Buzz Pick

  • “Only an alchemist as wise and sure as Alvarez could swirl the elements of folklore and the flavor of magical realism around her modern prose and make it all sing... lively, joyous, full of modern details and old tall tales… often witty, occasionally somber and elegiac.”
    Luis Alberto Urrea, The New York Times Book Review
  • "Warm and graceful... a riveting story... In the richness of Alvarez’s book... “The Cemetery of Untold Stories” proves to be an imaginative celebration of living, oral traditions, and our capacity even outside the gates of publishing, to bring our stories of the past into the future."
    Anita Felicelli, Los Angeles Times Book Review
  • “Engaging and written in a playful, crystal-clear prose, this novel explores friendship, love, sisterhood, living between cultures, and how people can be haunted by the things they don’t finish. A literary pioneer known for breaking ground in terms of centering the experiences of Latinx women and writing bilingually, Alvarez does so again here... entertaining... At the end, one message remains: Alvarez has seen it all as an author, but her love for telling stories remains as big as ever. Heartwarming.”
    Gabino Igelsias, The Boston Globe
  • “In this imaginative new novel from critically acclaimed literary icon Julia Alvarez, untold stories are buried in a graveyard and laid to rest … until the characters decide to revolt.”
  • “Mystical and moving, The Cemetery of Untold Stories shows why some stories must be told no matter how hard you try to bury them.”
  • “It’s a story that's both languorous and urgent... [Alvarez] continues her luminous virtuosity with the story of Alma Cruz. There is always something magical to discover in a story, and that is especially true in Alvarez's landing place.”
  • “Unforgettable. The central premise here — a graveyard for unfinished books — is delicious and sets off a novel full of people remembering and revising their own stories.” 
    USA Today
  • “Mystifying, compelling, and often wryly funny… Julia Alvarez delivers a lyrical, thought-provoking meditation on truth, complicated family narratives, and the question of whose stories get told.”
    Shelf Awareness
  • “A rich and moving saga of Dominican history emerges, embodied in the lives of irresistible characters… Her gifts for glowing prose and powerful narrative are still strong. Buried stories find their way to the light in this finely crafted novel.”
    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  • “Uplifting… Throughout, Alvarez seamlessly melds magical realism with heartfelt character portraits. This brims with the intoxicating power of storytelling.”
    Publishers Weekly
  • "Alvarez brings the magic again in this nesting box of a novel. These tales… are linked in surprising ways, most especially in a humanity that transcends pathos and passion. May Alvarez continue to excavate stories for many years to come!"
    Booklist (starred review)
  • “This new novel from the legendary author of In the Time of Butterflies is about a writer who decides to literally bury all her unfinished stories in a plot of inherited land. But the words still speak to her, even from beyond their grave.”​
    Book Riot
  • “Julia Alvarez's The Cemetery of Untold Stories is a really innovative and unique tale about a writer who literally tries to bury her draft manuscripts but fails to stop them coming to life.”
  • “Like How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, Alvarez’s pathbreaking novel from 1991, her new book explores sisterhood, immigration and return, and family secrets.”
    Washington Post
  • "The Cemetery of Untold Stories by Julia Alvarez glows with life. What emerges is a rich story of Dominican history, full of lush prose and quick wit, of love and loss, that Alvarez skillfully weaves back to Alma’s story in the present. Stories, it seems, find a way to get themselves told. Let’s hope Alvarez has more to tell."
    Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times
  • “A powerful and lyrical allegory about an older artist haunted by her own creativity. Alvarez has a wonderful way of being both lyrical and precisely concrete at the same time. Magical and multifaceted, this meditation on creativity, culture and aging is a triumph.”
    Carole V. Bell, BookPage (Starred Review)
  • “A spellbinding, unforgettable ride for readers... This multi-layered, rich novel about storytelling and the stories we tell ourselves to cope with life’s many struggles is a feat the acclaimed Alvarez has rightfully mastered.”
  • “Julia Alvarez enchants with a supernatural story… [Her] seventh novel, The Cemetery of Untold Stories, beautifully illuminates the experience of an artist’s twilight years…simply genius. Her writing is infused with lyricism and metaphor, but it’s also engrossing and accessible.” 
  • “Julia Alvarez’s novels have stunned us for years and her newest is no exception.”
    B&N Reads
  • “Dominican-American novelist Julia Alvarez has occasionally flirted with magical realism throughout her career—but in The Cemetery of Untold Stories she takes it to Gabriel García Márquez levels, and the result is sublime... Always a master of atmosphere, Alvarez has created a mysterious yet fully realized setting for a story that examines how we create our stories—and how they inevitably intertwine.”
  • “Julia Alvarez has been one of the most successful and acclaimed Latina writers since the 1990s… In a brilliant fusion of the personal and the political, Alvarez’s characters are haunted by both their own memories and the lingering memory of Trujillo’s regime.”
  • “Julia Alvarez's thought-provoking and powerful The Cemetery of Untold Stories is a balancing act of the everyday and the magical, a blend of history and cuento. Through imperfect characters longing for love and fighting against el olvido, we are reminded that each of us is capable of terrible cruelty or incredible compassion, and that stories have the power to bring us together.”
    Jaquira Díaz, author of Ordinary Girls
  • “The Cemetery of Untold Stories asks us to consider if our tales will last forever or if they might one day be forever lost. Yet there is nothing to fear or lament in this reality—not when we are soothed by the balm of Alvarez’s tender wit and her large-hearted candor. What a blessing to have one of our finest writers assure us that indeed ‘we are in this story together.”
    Manuel Muñoz, author of The Consequences
  • “Julia Alvarez delivers yet another glorious novel, this time about a very unique kind of love—the love of storytelling. Scheherazade-like, Alvarez keeps us hooked with surprising plot twists and revelations, and characters so captivating that we want to get lost in the corridors of their tales. Simply stated, this book is magical.”
    Rigoberto González, director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing, Rutgers University, and author of To the Boy Who Was Night: Poems Selected and New
  • “What a love letter not only to storytelling, but also to the tender, urgent, funny, heartbreaking reasons we tell stories in the first place. This cemetery is a fertile field of rebirth, reawakening, and joy. Every page overflows with delight and wisdom.”
    Stacey D’Erasmo, author of The Complicities
  • “A magical new novel focused on storytelling itself.”
    Literary Hub
  • The Cemetery of Untold Stories is magical realism at its finest, and just plain magical.”
  • “Julia Alvarez made history in 1991 with her novel How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent. Thirty three years later and she’s still delivering the goods, in this case a beguilingstory set in the Dominican Republic. It’s a cross of Lincoln In The Bardo and the very real history of the DR, perfect for fans of Alvarez’s magic.”
  • “A funny, life-affirming novel about storytelling, friendship and death from the author of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents.” – April Edition​
    B&N Reads
  • “A writer in the Dominican Republic buries her work — in the dirt, not in drawers — in this fantastical novel by the beloved author of In the Time of the Butterflies.
    Washington Post, 2024 Books Preview
  • “A captivating premise.”
    BookPage, Most Anticipated Books of 2024
  • “Mesmerizing… Alvarez’s novel poignantly explores themes of storytelling, memory, and the resilience of narratives that refuse to be buried, emphasizing that our stories persist beyond our lifetimes.”
  • “Read it if: You like your fantasy stories with a literary-fiction twist”
  • “A Dominican author buries her unfinished manuscripts—but her characters are unwilling to go gently into that good night, in Julia Alvarez’s inventive latest.”
    Vanity Fair, 11 Books to Read This Month
  • “The latest by literary legend Julia Alvarez… this imaginative book will make you think about legacies and how they live on.”
    Real Simple, These Are the Best Books of 2024 (So Far)
  • “The confluence of many different viewpoints, and the fugue-like shifts among perspectives, give the Cemetery of Untold Stories a spellbinding breadth and historical range. Stylistically, Alvarez's writing is intricate and assured.”
    Seven Days
  • “Alvarez is a masterful writer; there are many things to love in this book.”​
    Portland Book Review
  • “One of the most prominent Latina voices in contemporary literature.”
    Enlace Latino NC
  • “A graceful book about the stories that haunt us.”
  • “Reads like the work of a seasoned writer coming to terms with her life and work—all its accomplishments and disappointments, hopes and resignations. There’s a wistful quality in the telling … anyone interested in the alchemy of storytelling would do well to look at this book.”
    U.S. Catholic

On Sale
Apr 2, 2024
Page Count
288 pages
Algonquin Books

Julia Alvarez

About the Author

Julia Alvarez left the Dominican Republic for the United States in 1960 at the age of ten. She is the author of six novels, three books of nonfiction, three collections of poetry, and eleven books for children and young adults. She has taught and mentored writers in schools and communities across America and, until her retirement in 2016, was a writer in residence at Middlebury College. Her work has garnered wide recognition, including a Latina Leader Award in Literature from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature, the Woman of the Year by Latina magazine, and inclusion in the New York Public Library’s program “The Hand of the Poet: Original Manuscripts by 100 Masters, from John Donne to Julia Alvarez.” In the Time of the Butterflies, with over one million copies in print, was selected by the National Endowment for the Arts for its national Big Read program, and in 2013 President Obama awarded Alvarez the National Medal of Arts in recognition of her extraordinary storytelling.

Learn more about this author

A Letter from

Julia Alvarez

Dear Reader,

I’m *excited* (equal parts joy and dread─scratch that─unequal parts dread and joy) to be sharing my new novel with all of you. The Cemetery of Untold Stories is about a writer who is closing down her writing life. 

What to do with all the stories she hasn’t had the talent, courage, imagination, or time to tell? When she inherits a plot of land next to the town dump in her homeland of the Dominican Republic, she decides to create a cemetery and bury her boxes of unfinished drafts, thereby returning her stories to the place she and they came from.

But not so fast. Stories have a mind of their own. They will not be silenced. Her characters rise up to tell their true and secret stories. The inhabitants of the surrounding barrio join in with theirs. Before we know it we are in the thick of storytelling land with no end in sight . . .

There’s a saying often quoted by protestors: “They tried to bury us; they did not know we were seeds. Well, the novel’s version of that is “She tried to bury us; she did not know we were stories.” 

The Cemetery of Untold Stories is an exploration of storytelling, who owns the stories, who gets to tell them, what happens to silenced stories and histories. As I grow older, I’m interested in portrayals of older female protagonists, who aren’t just background for center-stage ingenues and young female leads. 

Eduardo Galeano, the Latin American writer, once remarked that scientists are wrong when they say we are made of atoms. Really, we are made up of stories. As Alma, the writer in my novel, and her characters, and you will find out, stories never die. They wait in silence to be told. May this novel inspire you to tell yours.

—Julia Alvarez