Beth Alvarado

    Author Speaker Teacher

  • Novel Cover Art Jillian

    a cycle of rather dark tales

    is available for Pre-Sale

    at Black Lawrence Press

    I've decided to give all of my commission from Pre-Sales to

    No More Deaths.

    With the ecstatic knowledge of an ancient curandera and the playful, storytelling prowess of a child, Alvarado travels great distances, bears witness, presages problems, and intuits solutions. She isn’t just at the forefront of white writers writing about race, she’s at the forefront of people writing about what it means to be human and how we might survive our own dangerous shortcomings. Masterful and original, her voice has been here since the before-time; in a world that needs healing and vision more than ever, it would behoove us all to listen.

    ~Jennifer Tseng, Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness

    Novel Cover Art Anxious Attachments

    Autumn House Press

    Praise for Anxious Attachments, winner of the Oregon Book Award and long-listed for PEN/Diamonstein-Spievogel Award for the Art of the Essay

    Alvarado’s gorgeous essays evoke the fluidity and awe of an underwater journey. She offers us a tour of grief—its causes, its cultural conditions, its grasp. In delineating, with devotion, with humor, losses that are at once ordinary and extraordinary, material and supernatural, she offers the reader a chance to better see what’s right in front of them. This book is an act of generosity, of friendship, of remembrance. I felt my head turned by it, encouraged to see my everyday loves with wider eyes.

    ~Aisha Sabatini Sloan, The Fluency of Light and Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit.

    Novel Cover Art Anthrolpologies

    University of Iowa Press

    Praise for Anthropologies


    ‘Memory is a silent room, a home movie from an old Brownie camera,’ Beth Alvarado writes. Her memoir, Anthropologies, suggests otherwise: there is little silence here. Instead everything is sound and light: story stacked up on story, memory on dream, aperture after aperture opening and staying open, recording past the final page. Anthropologies offers us the eternal present tense of memory: all our lives and our families’ lives existing at once, like the voice of her father, preserved on her mother’s answering machine and now here with many others in this lovely echo chamber of a book.

    ~Ander Monson, Vanishing Point

    Novel Cover Art Not a Matter of Love

    New Rivers Press

    Praise for Not a Matter of Love winner of the Many Voices Project

    Alvarado’s is a formidable talent, wise and witty and unflinching. To read her fiction is to understand two terrible truths: that humans hardly ever understand each other, and that we will persist relentlessly in an attempt to do so. This is serious, beautiful work.

    ~Antonya Nelson, Bound

  • About Me

    I am the author of four books. Jillian in the Borderlands: A Cycle of Rather Dark Tales is now available for pre-sale and will come out in October 2020. Anxious Attachments won the Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction and was long listed for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spievogel Award for the Art of the Essay. My two earlier books are Anthropologies: A Family Memoir; and Not a Matter of Love and other stories, which won the Many Voices Prize. In 2020, I won an Oregon Literary Career Fellowship.



    For much of my life, I lived in Tucson, Arizona, with my late husband, Fernando, our two children, and our large extended family. I now live in Bend, Oregon, where I am core faculty at OSU-Cascades Low Residency MFA Program. My essays and stories have been published in many fine journals and three essays have been chosen as Notable in Best American Essays.

  • Press & Reviews

    More praise for Jillian in the Borderlands:


    Relentlessly musical, heart-twisting, and haunted by the supernatural, Jillian in the Borderlands is a masterpiece of contemporary fabulist fiction. Told in a kaleidoscopic set of shifting points of view, these stories take readers to boundaries both geographic and metaphorical: between sickness and health, wonder and horror, the past and the present. “Women are always searching among the dead and the wounded,” observes the collection’s titular character. As the lives of constellating characters make clear, however, what women find is so much more complicated.

    ~Allegra Hyde, Of This New World


    In this lush and imaginative exploration of what makes us human, Alvarado conjures the twin energies of spirit and body, finding, in the face of political violence and its foul counterparts, our most urgent reasons for action and hope. While these are called dark tales, I find them genuinely uplifting, as Alvarado’s storytelling allows us access to the nexus for joy, in opposition.

    ~Aurelie Sheehan, Once into the Night


    With stunning buoyancy, these linked stories build a world of hope and magic, while challenging the hardships humans so often create for themselves. Alvarado has crafted a world one wants to sink into, full of empathy, sly humor, beauty and charm, while also looking directly at the question of what it means to be humans roaming the margins together.

    ~Monica Drake, The Stud Book


    Reviews of Anxious Attachments:

    Reviews of Anthropologies:
    • Megan Kimble’s review in Sonora Review
    • From Kirkus Reviews: "[Alvarado] lays bare in these pages the many stories and details of her life and identity. Devoid of self-pity or nostalgia, Alvarado’s voice is bell-clear."
    • From Publishers Weekly: "Sparked by her mother’s deterioration into old age, Alvarado (Not a Matter of Love) has written a three-part memoir about her family life that approaches prose poetry."

    Essays & Stories

    "Sex after Death" -- essay -- in The Sun, July 2020.


    From Jillian in the Borderlands:

    "Jillian Speaks," Terrain.org

    “La Linea," Cleaver Magazine

    What People Set into Motion, the Spirits Cannot Reverse, Shirley

    “A Rainbow in Your Glass," Lunate.co.uk

    “In the Precarious City,” About Place Journal

    "Ni Aqui, Ni Alla," Atticus Review


    From Anxious Attachments:

     “Water in the Desert,” Guernica

    “Stars and Moons and Comets,” named a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2015,

    The Sun

    “The Motherhood Poems,” which first appeared in Necessary Fiction & later was reprinted in New California Writing, 2011, Heydey Press, & in

    Notes from the Motherfield, Kore Press

    “Die Die Die,” Terrain

    "Ordinary Devotions," Cimarron Review, Summer 2018

    "Los Perdidos," River Teeth, Fall 2018

    "Cautionary Tales," Louisville Review, Spring 2019


    “Playlist for Anxious Attachments,” Largehearted Boy


    “When Your Daughter Refuses to Be in Your Essay,” LitHub


    “9 Ways (and 2 Rewards) of Marketing Your Own Book,” Jane Friedman's Blog


    From Not a Matter of Love and other stories:

    “Emily’s Exit,” Spork Press


    Audio & Video

    "A Novel Idea" wherein Ellen Santasiero and I talk about writing memoir for Deschutes Public Library.

    "In Conversation with Beth Alvarado” by Sheila Bender on WritingItReal

    From Anthropologies, University of Arizona Poetry Center

    From Not a Matter of Love , University of Arizona Poetry Center

    "Water in the Desert," YouTube, Narrow Chimney Reading Series, Flagstaff, AZ



    I am giving away 15 copies of Jillian in the Borderlands

    through Goodreads Giveaway Program.


    Also, I am participating in Black Lawrence Press's Pre-Order Program, which means I earn a commission on all copies of Jillian in the Borderlands sold before October 20, 2020. I am going to give my commission to the organization No More Deaths.


    I am thrilled to announce that Anxious Attachments has won the Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction and was long-listed for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spievogel Award for the Art of the Essay!