Isabel Allende

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Isabel Allende in 2008

Isabel Allende (born August 2, 1942) is a Chilean writer. Allende, whose works sometimes contain aspects of the genre magical realism, is known for novels such as The House of the Spirits (La casa de los espíritus, 1982) and City of the Beasts (La ciudad de las bestias, 2002), which have been commercially successful. Allende has been called "the world's most widely read Spanish-language author." In 2004, Allende was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2010, she received Chile's National Literature Prize. President Barack Obama awarded her the 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom.


  • Because she lived under the big umbrella of my grandfather and she didn't have any education - she had three kids, had been abandoned by her husband, had no money - it was a horrible life. The only way she could get attention from her father or anybody else was by being sick. She didn't do it consciously. As a child I felt impotent and guilty because I felt that I couldn't help her in any way.
  • Thank God – because what are you going to write about if you don’t struggle as a child? I don’t think that you become creative because you have struggled, no, but creative people are fuelled by anger and passion, and haunted by demons and memories.
  • It would have been much better if I had started [writing novels] at 19. But I couldn't. I had to support a family, I wasn't ready. And I think I needed to lose my country to start writing, because The House of the Spirits is an attempt to recreate the country I had lost, the family I had lost.
  • I imagined the structure of the novel like a braid. My job was to blend three strands evenly and neatly. Each piece of the braid represented one of the stories. The characters were very different but they had something in common: they were emotionally wounded by events of their past.
  • “I can promise you that women working together – linked, informed, and educated – can bring peace and prosperity to this forsaken planet.”[1]
  • I never try to give a message in my fiction. When I see that an author is trying to preach to me in a novel, I feel insulted. If I find a message, it should come between the lines; I will discover it if it resonates with me. The ideas, feelings and experiences of the author appear unavoidably in the writing.
  • Fear is inevitable, I have to accept that, but I cannot allow it to paralyze me.
    • The Sum of Our Days: A Memoir (2007)
  • He realized...that the loudest are the least sincere, that arrogance is a quality of the ignorant, and that flatterers tend to be vicious.
    • Zorro (2005)
  • Where does taste end and smell begin?
    • "Language of Flowers" anthologized in The Sweet Breathing of Plants: Women Writing on the Green World edited by Linda Hogan and Brenda Peterson (2001)
  • Silence before being born, silence after death: life is nothing but noise between two unfathomable silences.
    • Paula (1994)
  • For women, the best aphrodisiacs are words. The G-spot is in the ears. He who looks for it below there is wasting his time.
    • Of Love and Shadows (1984)
  • Photographs deceive time, freezing it on a piece of cardboard where the soul is silent.
    • Of Love and Shadows (1984)

The Japanese Lover (2015)


original title El amante japonés, translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson

  • When Irina Bazili began working at Lark House in 2010, she was twenty-three years old but already had few illusions about life. (first line)
  • "There are a lot of good people, Irina, but they keep quiet about it. It’s the bad ones who make a lot of noise, and that’s why they get noticed..." (p103)
  • " shouldn't stay trapped in the past or be frightened of the future. You only have one life, but if you live it well, that’s enough. The only reality is now, today. What are you waiting for to be happy? Every day counts, I can tell you!" (p193)
  • "...We are all born happy. Life gets us dirty along the way, but we can clean it up. Happiness is not exuberant or noisy, like pleasure or joy; it’s silent, tranquil, and gentle; it’s a feeling of satisfaction inside that begins with self-love..." (p194)

Maya's Notebook (2011)


Original title El cuaderno de Maya, translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean

  • our demons lose their power when we pull them out of the depths where they hide and look them in the face in broad daylight. (p249)
  • “It’s easy to judge others if you’ve never suffered an experience like that” (p250)

Interview with Democracy Now (2006)

  • The role of the United States, not only in Latin America, but in many other places in the world, is unknown by many people in the United States. People here don’t know what the CIA and the American government has done abroad. And we know, because we are the ones who suffered it.
  • We see stuff on TV that doesn’t look real. It looks like a video game. We don’t see the collateral damage.
  • When I came to this country, I was willing to embrace everything that was good, fight against everything I thought was awful, and not lose what I brought with me, which is my language, my traditions, my way of living, hospitality, and many things that we Latins have.
  • What shocks me about the issue of immigration is that globally, capital has no borders. Money goes wherever money wants to go. There are no borders, no laws, nothing, for the capitalists. And yet, for labor, for the workers, there are fences, electrified fences and bullets.

Inés of My Soul (2006)


original title Inés del alma mía, translated from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden

  • I am Inés Suárez, a townswoman of the loyal city of Santiago de Nueva Extremadura in the kingdom of Chile, writing in the year of Our Lord 1580. (first line)
  • How accommodating love is; it forgives everything. (p10)
  • "They relish seeing strong women like you and me humiliated. They cannot forgive us that we triumphed where so many others fail...Courage is a virtue appreciated in a male but considered a defect in our gender. Bold women are a threat to a world that is out of balance, in favor of men. That is why they work so hard to mistreat and destroy us." (p264)

City of the Beasts (2002)


original title La ciudad de las bestias, translated from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden

  • Alexander Cold awakened at dawn, startled by a nightmare. (first line)
  • "With age, you acquire a certain humility...The longer I live, the more uninformed I feel. Only the young have an explanation for everything. At your age, you can afford to commit the sin of arrogance, and it doesn't matter much if you look ridiculous" (p50)
  • According to Nadia, who had an astounding gift for languages, words are not that important when you recognize intentions. (p202)

Portrait in Sepia (2000)


Original title Retrato en sepia, translated from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden (2001)

  • Jealousy. The person who hasn't felt it cannot know how much it hurts, or imagine the madness committed in its name. (p368)
  • love is a free contract that begins with a spark and can end the same way. A thousand dangers threaten love, but if the couple defends it, it can be saved; it can grow like a tree and give shade and fruit, but that happens only when both partners participate. (p369)
  • Memory is fiction. We select the brightest and the darkest, ignoring what we are ashamed of, and so embroider the broad tapestry of our lives. (p433)

Conversations with Isabel Allende (1999)

  • I think that the reason to live is to learn. We come here to experience through the body things that the spirit could not experience otherwise. So we need this body, and we have to transform this body into a temple of learning. (1997)
  • when you look for the motivations you always go to the basic instincts, to the basic emotions, the basic things that have moved humankind always. That's what all writers write about, ultimately. What did Shakespeare write about? Jealousy, love, sex, power, greed, the same stuff that soap operas and the Bible are made of. It's always the same. (1994)
  • Right now I am reading a group of women writers that belong to ethnic minorities in this country. They are great writers, Chicanas, Japanese, Latinas. They are writing extraordinary works, and they are taking over the world of literature that the white men in New York monopolized. Minimalist literature is dying. And it was about time. We are seeing a return to great narrations, to the baroque narrative. We are seeing a return to artistry in words, in sentences, in the extravagance of the story itself. I am very attracted by that...Toni Morrison heads that movement. (1993, translated from Spanish by Virginia Invernizzi)
  • silence can also enrich you very much. Maya Angelou talks about a long period in her childhood when she was silent, and during those years she turned evil into action. All the evil that had happened to her she was raped-was turned into a positive strength, into energy, because of those years of silence. She reinterpreted the world, recreated reality. In a way, I think, that happened to me, too. Not as dramatically as it happened to her, but those years of silence were very necessary. Now that I've been talking and talking and talking in these lectures and in these seminars and courses and teaching, I have the feeling that all my energy is gone out, so I've decided that I will stop all interviews, all lectures. I will only do those I've already agreed to do. I will finish these obligations on October 1. And then it's my time of silence, because I need silence. Without silence I can't write. (1991)
  • There is a wonderful sentence, a statement, by one of Bertolt Brecht's characters, he says: "I am that man that goes around with a brick in his hand, to show the world how his house was." And that's the way I feel about my books in a way, that they are my bricks. I can show people what I believe my world was, so I've not lost it. (1990)
  • The best literature in this country now is being written by minorities, black women first, Chinese Americans, Chicanos, Japanese-Americans. These people are writing wonderful literature that totally defies the standards of WASP literature that is always in the New York Times, and I love it. (1990)
  • The first person to name that movement "Magical Realism," to give a label to that, was Alejo Carpentier...he abandoned the surrealists and searched in our roots, in our history, in our legends, in our folklore. He was the first one to label it. And it was wonderful because it was like giving permission to other writers to finally use their own voices. Because before that our writers were always trying to imitate Europeans, or North Americans, and were denying all our Indian background, our African influence, our own languages, and legends, and myths. This was just an open door for all that. I think that was the beginning of the Boom. That really gave a lot of people permission to do anything. But it's not a literary device, it's part of our life. The magic is still there. Because magic, in my case, stands for emotions...Maybe we deal with them in different forms, but we all feel them in the same way (1990)


  • Most of my writing is an attempt to bring an illusory order to the natural chaos of life, to decode the mysteries of memory, to search for my own identity. I have been doing it for several years, and I have achieved none of the above. My life is as messy as it always has been; my memory still works in mysterious ways-plus I am losing it!-and I still don't have a clear idea of who I really am. Most people would come to the same conclusion. We evolve, change, age. Nobody is carved in stone, except the very pompous or self-righteous.
  • When I wrote my first novel, The House of the Spirits, I had no idea that literature was studied in universities and that people who had never written a book determined the value of others' writing. I simply thought that if a story had the power to touch a few readers, if it planted the seed of new ideas in them, if it seemed true and made a difference in somebody's life, it was valuable. Like most normal human beings, I had never read a book review. Word of mouth was how I chose the books I read.
  • I never expected that the weird craft of writing would be of any interest to the general public, nor that a writer could become a sort of celebrity and be expected to behave like one. Writing is a very private matter that happens in silence and solitude-an introverted temperament is an asset in this job. Writing takes up an incredible amount of energy and time; there is very little left for anything else. But more and more the publishing industry forces the authors to become public figures and go around talking, reading, signing, and even selling their books. How can one be in the limelight and still write? Books deserve compassion. They are delicate creatures born to be accepted or rejected as a whole; they can't endure dissection under the microscope of the pathologist. Most writers are as vulnerable as their work. If you pin them against the wall and force them to explain the unexplainable, you might break them. I am afraid it's happening to me.
  • Why do I write? This is a question that I often ask myself, although it is like trying to explain why I breathe. Writing is a matter of survival: if I don't write I forget, and if I forget it is as if I had not lived. That is one of the main reasons for my writing: to prevent the erosion of time, so that memories will not be blown by the wind. I write to record events and name each thing. I write for those who want to share the obligation of building a world in which love for our fellowmen and love for this beautiful but vulnerable planet will prevail. I write for those who are not pessimists and believe in their own strength, for those who have the certainty that their struggle for life will defeat all bad omens and preserve hope on earth. But maybe this is too ambitious... When I was younger, I thought I wrote only for the sake of those I cared for: the poor, the repressed, the abused, for the growing majority of the afflicted and the distressed of this earth, for those who don't have a voice or those who have been silenced. But now I am more modest. I think of my writing as a humble offering that I put out there with an open heart and a sense of wonder. With some luck, maybe someone will accept the offering and give me a few hours of his or her time so that we can share a story. And that story doesn't have to always be about the most solemn and transcendent human experiences. I find myself often writing for the same reason I read: just for the fun of it! Storytelling is an organic experience, like motherhood or love with the perfect lover; it is a passion that determines my existence. I am a story junkie. I want to know what happened and to whom, why and where it happened. Writing has been very healing for me because it allows me to exorcise some of my demons and transform most of my pain and losses into strength. Certainly I write because I love it, because if I didn't my soul would dry up and die.

Interview (1984)


by Marjorie Agosín in Imagine 1, no. 2 (Winter 1984): 42-56, translated from the Spanish by Cola Franzen

  • Daily life is brimful of fantasy and at the same time books are saturated with reality. I feel that all things float within the realm of the possible. As a reader I let myself be carried away by the enchantment of a story, without worrying too much about its authenticity. As a writer I abandon myself in the same way to the necessity of telling, convinced that if something is not exactly true at this moment, it may be so tomorrow. That's the way I have found it to be in my work.
  • I visualized the book as a string of beads. Each anecdote, each character, was a separate bead strung on one string. That is why I wanted to close the book where it began, as if one had fastened the clasp of a necklace. I also wanted to show that life goes in a circle, that events are intertwined, and that history repeats itself. There is no beginning and no end.
  • (About The House of Spirits) All the women in my book are feminists in their fashion; that is, they ask to be free and complete human beings, to be able to fulfill themselves, not to be dependent on men.
  • I do realize that human beings are the same everywhere; the differences are not so great. This story of the Trueba family could have happened anywhere.
  • When I left Chile, after the military coup, I lost in one instant my family, my past, my home. I felt like a tree without roots, destined to dry up and die. For many years I was paralyzed by a kind of stupor and by nostalgia, but one day in January of 1981, I decided to recover what I had lost. I sat down to write the story of a family similar to mine, the story of a country that could be mine, a continent resembling Latin America... It was almost the act of a conjurer.
  • Democratic values have never disappeared from Chile. We must not confuse the Chilean nation with the dictatorship that is ruling it now. Chile is its people, its land, its past, its present, and its future. Pinochet and the evil ones who are with him are an accident in the long life of my country. They will go into history as a misfortune that darkened the sky, but they will go.
  • My work as a journalist has been fundamental in my literary creations. Journalism taught me to know and love words, the tools of my trade, the material of my craft. Journalism taught me to search for truth and to try to be objective, how to capture the reader and to hold him firmly and not let him escape. It taught me to synthesize ideas and to be precise about events. And above all, it rid me of any fear of the blank page.

Interview (1989)


In Interviews with Latin American Writers by Marie Lise Gazarian Gautier (1989)

  • The written word is an act of human solidarity. I write so that people will love each other more.
  • The political future of Chile is a democracy, without a doubt.
  • For me, feminism is a fight that men and women must wage for a more educated world, one in which the basic inequality between the sexes will be eliminated. We have to change the patriarchal, hierarchical, authoritarian, repressive societies that have been marked by the religions and the laws that we have had to live with for thousands of years. This goes a lot deeper than not wearing a bra, or the sexual and cultural revolutions. It is a revolution that must go to the heart of the world, and that all of us must fight, women and men alike. Both sexes are on a ship without a course, and we must give it a new direction.
  • I don't pretend to be anyone's voice. I have been very lucky to be published in Europe, and I say lucky because there are women who have been writing in Latin America since the seventeenth century, like Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. The problem is that few people ever talk about them. Their work is rarely taught at the universities, there is no literary criticism on them, and they are not published, translated or distributed.
  • When I write, I fly to another dimension. Like Eva Luna, I try to live life as I would like it to be, as in a novel. I am always half flying, like Marc Chagall's violinists.

Eva Luna (1987)


translated from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden

  • She sowed in my mind the idea that reality is not only what we see on the surface; it has a magical dimension as well and, if we so desire, it is legitimate to enhance it and color it to make our journey through life less trying. (p22)
  • That was a good time in my life, in spite of having the sensation of floating on a cloud, surrounded by both lies and things left unspoken. Occasionally I thought I glimpsed the truth, but soon found myself once again lost in a forest of ambiguities. (p125)

The House of the Spirits (1982)


Translations from the Spanish by Magda Bogin

  • Barrabás came to us by sea, the child Clara wrote in her delicate calligraphy. She was already in the habit of writing down important matters, and afterward, when she was mute, she also recorded trivialities, never suspecting that fifty years later I would use her notebooks to reclaim the past and overcome terrors of my own. (first lines)
  • ...Captain Longfellow—who, like most Englishmen, was kinder to animals than to people... (p31)
  • “This is to assuage our conscience, darling" she would explain to Blanca. "But it doesn't help the poor. They don't need charity; they need justice” (p162)
  • "My son, the Holy Church is on the right, but Jesus Christ was always on the left.” (p182)
  • He felt that Christianity, like almost all forms of superstition, made men weaker and more resigned, and that the point was not to await some reward in the sky but to fight for one’s rights on earth. (p255)
  • Blanca argued that her reading should be monitored because there were certain things that were inappropriate for her age, but her Uncle Jaime felt that people never read what did not interest them and that if it interested them that meant they were sufficiently mature to read it. (p311)
  • The man and the little girl looked at each other, recognizing themselves in the other’s eyes. (p319)
  • "Public opinion wouldn’t stand for it,” Gómez replied. “This is a democracy. It’s not a dictatorship and it never will be.” “We always think things like that only happen elsewhere,” said Miguel, “until they happen to us too.” (p367)
  • ...and on the date stipulated by law the left calmly came to power. And on that date the right began to stockpile hatred. (p392)
  • She felt that everything was made of glass, as fragile as a sigh... (p430)
  • The coup gave them a chance to put into practice what they had learned in their barracks: blind obedience, the use of arms, and other skills that soldiers can master once they silence the scruples of their hearts. (p436)
  • The Poet’s funeral had turned into the symbolic burial of freedom. (p441)
  • I told her she had run an enormous risk rescuing me, and she smiled. It was then I understood that the days of Colonel Garcia and all those like him are numbered, because they have not been able to destroy the spirit of these women. (p487)
  • I can only write fiction in Spanish, because it is for me a very organic process that I can only do in my native language.
  • The first lie of fiction is that the author gives some order to the chaos of life: chronological order, or whatever order the author chooses. As a writer, you select some part of a whole. You decide that those things are important and the rest is not. And you write about those things from your perspective. Life is not that way. Everything happens simultaneously, in a chaotic way, and you don't make choices. You are not the boss; life is the boss. So when you accept as a writer that fiction is lying, then you become free. You can do anything. Then you start walking in circles. The larger the circle, the more truth you can get. The wider the horizon—the more you walk, the more you linger over everything—the better chance you have of finding particles of truth.
  • Everybody has a story and all stories are interesting if they are told in the right tone.
  • I spend ten, twelve hours a day alone in a room writing. I don't talk to anybody. I don't answer the telephone. I'm just a medium or an instrument of something that is happening beyond me, voices that talk through me. I'm creating a world that is fiction but that doesn't belong to me. I'm not God; I'm just an instrument. And in that long, very patient daily exercise of writing I have discovered a lot about myself and about life. I have learned. I'm not conscious of what I'm writing. It’s a strange process—as if by this lying-in-fiction you discover little things that are true about yourself, about life, about people, about how the world works.
  • People are complex and complicated—they seldom show all the aspects of their personalities. Characters should be that way too.
  • To me a short story is like an arrow; it has to have the right direction from the beginning and you have to know exactly where you're aiming.
  • a novel is patient and daily work, like embroidering a tapestry of many colors. You go slowly, you have a pattern in mind. But all of a sudden you turn it and realize that it’s something else.
  • Happy endings usually don't work for me. I like open endings. I trust the reader’s imagination.
  • I belong to the first generation of Latin American writers brought up reading other Latin American writers. Before my time the work of Latin American writers was not well distributed, even on our continent. In Chile it was very hard to read other writers from Latin America. My greatest influences have been all the great writers of the Latin American Boom in literature: García Márquez, Vargas Llosa, Cortázar, Borges, Paz, Rulfo, Amado, etc. Many Russian novelists influenced me as well: Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Nabokov, Gogol, and Bulgarov. The English writers who had a big influence on me during my adolescence were Sir Walter Scott, Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Charles Dickens, Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, and Virginia Woolf. I loved mysteries and read all of Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle. Also some American authors who were very popular in Spanish, like Mark Twain, Jack London, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and many others. I remember the lasting impression that Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird had on me. I read that book again every decade or so. From these books I got a sense of plot and strong characters. I discovered fantasy and eroticism in One Thousand and One Nights, which I read in Lebanon at age fourteen. At that time and in that place, girls didn't have much social life aside from school and family; we didn't even go to the movies. My only escape from a troublesome family life was reading. My stepfather had four mysterious leather volumes in his locked closet, forbidden books that I was not supposed to see because they were “erotic.” Of course I found a way to copy the key and get in the closet when he was not around. I used a flashlight, could not mark the pages, and read quickly, skipping pages and looking for the dirty parts. My hormones were raging and my imagination went wild with those fantastic tales. When critics call me a Latin America Sheherazade I feel very flattered! The American and European feminists that I read in my twenties gave me an articulate language to express the anger I felt against the patriarchy in which we all live. I started working at Paula, a Chilean feminist magazine, sharpening my ideas and my pen to defy the male establishment. It was the best time of my life. I have always liked movies, and sometimes an image or a scene or a character stays with me for years and inspires me when I write. For example: the magic in Fanny and Alexander or the story within a story of Shakespeare in Love.
  • Pain is universal. We all experience pain, loss, and death the same way.
  • The death of a child is the oldest sorrow of women. Mothers have lost children for millennia. It is only a privileged few who can expect all of their children to live.
  • I work with emotions; language is the tool, the instrument.
  • This sounds very corny but my life has been determined by two things that have been extremely important: love and violence. There is sorrow, pain, and death, but there’s another parallel dimension, and that is love. There are many forms of love, but the kind I am talking about is unconditional. For instance, the way we love a tree. We don't expect the tree to move or to do anything or to be beautiful. The tree is just a tree, and we love the tree because it’s a tree. You love an animal that way. We love children that way.
  • The soul has no age.
  • It’s strange that my work has been classified as magic realism because I see my novels as just being realistic literature. They say that if Kafka had been born in Mexico he would have been a realistic writer. So much depends on where you were born.
  • the awareness of how powerful the written word can be: how you can tap into that world that we are talking about and discover things that would have been impossible to know if you didn't have that connection to a collective knowledge that comes through the writing.
  • Short stories come to you whole. A novel is work—work, work, work—and then one day it’s over; it’s finished. But a short story is something that happens to you—it’s like catching the flu.
  • Who wants to be in the mainstream?...Being marginal is like being a new immigrant. If you can transform marginality into something positive, instead of dwelling on it as something negative, it’s a wonderful source of strength.
  • there are more similarities than differences when it comes to gender. Essentially, human beings are very similar, but we are stuck in the differences instead of highlighting the similarities.
  • I have been a feminist all my life, fighting for feminist issues. When I was young, I fought aggressively. I was a warrior then. And now I am becoming more aware of those essential things we men and women have to explore and that could really bring us together. But don't get me wrong: I am a feminist and a very proud one!
  • you will find elements of magic realism in literature from all over the world—not just in Latin America. You will find it in Scandinavian sagas, in African poetry, in Indian literature written in English, in American literature written by ethnic minorities. Writers like Salman Rushdie, Toni Morrison, Barbara Kingsolver, and Alice Hoffman all use this style.
  • For a while, in the U.S. and Europe, a logical and practical approach to literature prevailed, but it didn't last very long. That’s because life is full of mystery. And the goal of literature is to explore those mysteries. It actually enlarges your horizons. When you allow dreams, visions, and premonitions to enter into your everyday life and your work as a writer, reality seems to expand.
  • I do believe in destiny. I believe that we are dealt a hand of cards and we have to play the game of life as best we can. And often the cards are marked.
  • I try to write the first sentence in a state of trance, as if somebody else was writing it through me. That first sentence usually determines the whole book. It’s a door that opens to an unknown territory that I have to explore with my characters. And slowly, as I write, the story seems to unfold itself, in spite of me. It just happens.
  • Writing is like training to be an athlete. There is a lot of training and work that nobody sees in order to compete. The writer needs to write every day, just as the athlete needs to train. Much of the writing will never be used, but it is essential to do it. I always tell my young students to write at least one good page a day. At the end of the year they will have at least 360 good pages. That is a book.

Quotes about Isabel Allende

  • "I come from the so-called Third World," wrote the Chilean novelist and memoirist Isabel Allende after September 11, 2001, a day that also marked the twenty-eighth anniversary of a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état against her uncle, Salvador Allende. Still, she writes, "Until only a short time ago, if someone had asked me where I'm from, I would have answered, without much thought, Nowhere; or, Latin America; or, maybe, In my heart I'm Chilean. Today, however, I say I'm an American, not simply because that's what my passport verifies, or because that word includes all of America from north to south, or because my husband, my son, my grandchildren, most of my friends, my books, and my home are in northern California; but because a terrorist attack destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and starting with that instant, many things have changed. We can't be neutral in moments of crisis...I no longer feel that I am an alien in the United States."
  • The New York Times Book Review said of Isabel Allende that she is "the first woman to join what has heretofore been an exclusive male club of Latin American novelists." Her voice stands out as a spectacular outcry of the "magically real." Like the Argentine novelist Luisa Valenzuela, she has inherited the spellbound qualities of the "Boom," the literary explosion of the 1960s, when a group of young Latin American writers brought new dimensions and vitality to the Spanish language. Her characters, mostly women, move between the supernatural and the everyday life with extraordinary ease…Meeting Isabel Allende and listening to her is a rewarding experience. She tells her story in an unpretentious way, insisting on the fact that she knows nothing about literature. We fall under her charm and we can see why her characters talk the way they do: with persuasion and magic, and in a natural and straightforward manner.
    • Marie Lise Gazarian Gautier, Interviews with Latin American writers (1989)
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