New Book: “La muerte feliz de William Carlos Williams”

Marta Aponte Alsina’s La muerte feliz de William Carlos Williams [The Happy Death of William Carlos Williams (Candaya, February 2022)] explores the life of Raquel Helena Hoheb—born in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, in 1896—an important Latin American painter of the 19th century and mother of the poet William Carlos Williams. [This book will be launched in June at Casa America Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain.]

La muerte feliz de William Carlos Williams is a novel about the enigmatic Raquel Helena Hoheb, perhaps one of the most important painters of the Latin American 19th century and mother of poet William Carlos Williams, who defined her as a woman of irrepressible imagination. Her life exemplifies very well the rich history of Caribbean migrations: from Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, to the Paris of the Universal Exposition, and from there to Rutherford, New Jersey, where she lived for more than half a century the conflict between her role as a woman dedicated to her family and her artistic vocation.

Marta Aponte Alsina, one of the most outstanding authors in Puerto Rican literature, follows the opposite route to writing a biography: she gives voice to silence, dares to mend gaps, and adds detours to the work of the author from Paterson, to discover, in the end, that all biographies are connected and that all the pasts are projected onto our lives.

Marta Aponte Alsina was born in Cayey, Puerto Rico, en 1945. She has published the novels Angélica furiosa (1994), El cuarto rey mago (1996), Vampiresas (2004), Sexto sueño (2007, Premio Nacional de Novela del Pen Club de Puerto Rico), El fantasma de las cosas (2009), Sobre mi cadáver (2012) and Mr. Green (2013); the short story collections La casa de la loca (2001) and Fúgate (2005); and essays Somos islas (2015) and PR3 Aguirre (2018), among others.

She has been the editor of numerous books and magazines, such as the anthology Narraciones puertorriqueñas published by Fundación Biblioteca Ayacucho. In 2014, the Women and Gender Studies Program at the University of Puerto Rico awarded her the Nilita Vientós Gastón Chair. Cristina Rivera Garza included her in a selection of 12 essential authors from Latin America, published in Publisher’s Weekly in 2018. 

Information translated by Ivette Romero. For more information (in Spanish), see

For more information on the novel and the research process, read

[Shown above: Raquel H.R. Hoheb Hubbard’s “Portrait of a Niece in Mayagüez,” c. 1881-1882. From the Collectionof Daphne Fox. Photo by Marién Vélez. Accessed via]

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