Immigrant of the Day: Mia Alvar – Writer
By Lily Siskind
“A writer with enchanting powers, Alvar wills us to crisscross the globe with [her characters] all over again.” —J.R. Ramakrishnan, The New York Times Book Review
Philippine-born, Bahrain and American-raised Mia Alvar has received noteworthy recognition for her writing skills. Her book of short stories (which was released last week), In the Country, follows the tales of different characters who find themselves entangled in everyday struggles, all the while questioning their morals. Alvar drew from her Filipino heritage and experiences as a child in Manila to construct these stories. Alvar was born in Manila, but left as a young child in the wake of her six-year old brother’s tragic death. The family moved to Bahrain for a few years and then moved to New York where her mother began a graduate program at Columbia University. Mia followed her mother’s footsteps and went on to the Ivy Leagues, attending both Harvard and Columbia.
Alvar describes herself as a “fraudulent Filipina”, possibly due to the discomfort with the idea of accepting the patriotism of a country that she didn’t get to fully experience (a phenomenon that many third-culture kids encounter. However, her stories in In the Country illustrate her homes and Filipino culture beautifully, and bring light to a fictional yet completely plausible interpretation of what the culture actually is and how it affects the lives of average people. In the Country was named one of the Best Books in June by Amazon books and NPR has a story on the book here.