We all read the book, now hear from the author! Greenwich Library is excited to welcome Xochitl Gonzalez, author of 2022’s Greenwich Reads Together selection Olga Dies Dreaming on Tuesday, October 25 at 7:00 p.m. in the Berkley Theater. The event will also be livestreamed and recorded.
Earlier that afternoon, Gonzalez will host a Student Conversation for teens in grades 9 and up. In it, she’ll discuss the creative writing process and how her own teen experiences inform her writing.
Pizza and refreshments will be served. Registration is required.
Olga Dies Dreaming is a bold, thought-provoking novel about resilience and diaspora that presses readers to examine their ambitions and at what cost pursuing an American success story may come.
The book debuted on The New York Times bestseller list after its release in January 2022. Months before it hit shelves, 20th Century Television ordered a series with Gonzalez attached as lead writer and co-executive producer.
In June, Greenwich Reads Together, Greenwich Library’s community-wide reading experience that engages all of Greenwich in exploring a single book, announced Olga Dies Dreaming as its 2022 GRT title, as chosen by the GRT Selection Committee, led by Librarian Siobhan Schugmann. To be selected, a book must be of literary quality, reflective of universal issues and capable of generating thought-provoking discussions. It must lend itself to engaging public programs and appeal to a diverse population. GRT is supported each year by the Friends of Greenwich Library.
Gonzalez’s novel follows adult siblings Olga and Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo, two high-profile names in their hometown of New York. Prieto is a popular, closeted congressman representing their gentrifying Latinx neighborhood in Brooklyn, while Olga is the tony wedding planner for Manhattan’s power brokers. Despite their glittery public lives, things are far less rosy behind closed doors. For Olga, the pursuit of perfection has become her survival mechanism, but a new love interest forces her to confront the effects of long-held family secrets. Blanca, Olga and Prieto’s politically radical mother who abandoned her children years ago to advance revolutionary causes, has come barreling back into their lives.
Set against the backdrop of New York City in the months surrounding the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history, Olga Dies Dreaming (the title is an allusion to the Pedro Pietri poem “Puerto Rican Obituary,” which contains the lines “Olga / died waiting for a five dollar raise” and “Olga / died dreaming about real jewelry”) is a story that examines political corruption, familial strife, and the very notion of the American dream ― all while asking what it really means to weather a storm.
Xochitl Gonzalez, a native Brooklynite, fictionalized parts of her own biography for her debut novel, including the concepts of an absent, activist mother and Gonzalez’s actual career as a high-end wedding planner.
She earned an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow and recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Prize in Fiction.
She won the 2019 Disquiet Literary Prize, and her work has been published in Vogue, The Cut, Allure, Elle Decor, and more.
She is a contributor to The Atlantic, where she explores gentrification of people and places in her weekly newsletter “Brooklyn, Everywhere.”
Gonzalez earned a B.A. in Visual Arts from Brown University, where she is now a Trustee, and she serves on the Board of the Lower East Side Girls Club.
The conversation with Gonzalez will be moderated by Alicia Menendez, anchor of MSNBC’s “American Voices with Alicia Menendez.” She is the creator and host of the podcast “Latina to Latina” and wrote the 2019 book The Likeability Trap. Menendez is a native of Union City, New Jersey; she earned a degree in Women’s Studies from Harvard.
Registration using the Library’s online calendar is required. Books will be available for sale and signing from Diane’s Books. Greenwich Reads Together is made possible through the support of The Friends of Greenwich Library.