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Isabel Allende

 

The Chilean-American novelist Isabel Allende Llona is probably the best-known and most successful female Latin American literary figure alive. Her books, among which are the best-selling House of Spirits (published in 1982) and City of the Beasts (2002), have been translated into 30 languages and have sold over 51 million copies worldwide. Describing herself as a “proud feminist,” Isabel Allende has based many of her novels and short stories on her personal experience as a woman, creating independent-minded, adventurous heroines, like in Daughter of Fortune (1999).

But her characters are also participants in the history of their times, like the Trueba family of The House of Spirits, whose destiny unfolds against the backdrop of intense moments in Chilean history. The House of Spirits, set during the agrarian reform of her uncle Salvador Allende’s presidency, is indeed her  most political work, although it also weaves in fantastic elements, in the tradition of Latin American “magical realism.” The manuscript for that novel grew from a letter which Isabel started writing to her beloved 99-year-old grandfather when she learned that he was dying. Indeed, her best writing is born of deep love and acute suffering, like Paula, the moving memoir of her childhood and years in exile, written in the form of a letter to her daughter Paula, who lay in hospital in a coma (and later died).

Isabel Allende’s life makes for interesting reading. Born in 1942 in Peru (her father was a diplomat), young Isabel attended private schools in Lebanon and in Chile and grew up to be a TV personality and magazine journalist, then married in 1962 and went on to work for the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization. The 1973 coup against Salvador Allende forced her to flee to Venezuela, where she lived for 13 years, working as a columnist. She met her second husband on a visit to the US in 1988 and having obtained American citizenship in 2003, now lives in California, where she teaches literature and keeps on writing.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Chile: Music in Chile, Dance, Theater and Comedy in Chile, Art in Chile and Chilean Cinema.








16 Feb 2009




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