Julia Alvarez is writer-in-residence at Middlebury College. She tells two stories in her new novel, “Saving the World”.
One is about “Alma,” a contemporary Latin American novelist. Alma discovers a reference to a 19th century expedition that brought the smallpox vaccination to Spanish colonies.
Without refrigeration, the only way to carry the vaccine was through human carriers, in this case 22 vaccinated orphans.
Alma becomes obsessed with writing a novel about this worldwide humanitarian expedition.
And there’s a parallel story. It’s an account of the 19th century orphanage caretaker who accompanied the vaccinated boys.
VPR’s Neal Charnoff spoke with Julia Alvarez in our Colchester studios.