The Chilean author Isabel Allende was born in Peru in 1942. Her parents were diplomats, and she grew up in Santiago de Chile, La Paz, and Beirut. From 1959 on she was a journalist and anchor in Santiago. She was an active member of the feminist movement, the co-founder of the journal »Paula«, and worked for TV Chile as well as numerous newspapers and magazines. At the same time she wrote children’s books and theatre plays. As the second niece of President Salvador Allende, she went to exile in Venezuela after Pinochet’s coup d’état in Chile on the 11th of September in 1973.
Her first novel »La casa de los espíritus« (1982; Eng. »The House of the Spirits«, 1982) became a worldwide bestseller, and was turned into a film with many stars in the cast in 1993. The family saga covers four generations and deals with the social and ideological contradictions within Chilean society, including the dictatorship. Almost twenty years later, Allende complemented the trilogy with the antecedents of her debut, »Hija de la Fortuna« (1999; Eng. »Daughter of Fortune«) and »Retrato en Sepia« (2000; Eng. »Portrait in Sepia«). When her daughter, who suffered from a metabolic disease, fell into a coma, she started »Paula« (1994), her memoirs published in the form of letters, which focus on the history of her family and of Chile, and on loss and death. After publishing a trilogy for young readers, the autobiographical narrative »Mi país inventado« (2003; Eng. »My Invented Country: A Memoir«), a treatment of the Zorro myth, and the historical novel »Inés del alma mía« (2006; Eng. »Ines of my Sour«), she released »La suma de los días« (2007; Eng. »The Sum of Our Days«), which presents her memoirs in the form of a novel. In »La Isla Bajo el Mar« (2009; Eng. »The Island Beneath the Sea«) Allende once again picked a historical theme and described the life story of a slave in the Caribbean colony of Saint-Domingue. In »El Cuaderno de Maya« (2011; Eng. »Maya’s Diary«), a young woman flees to an island in Southern Chile in an attempt to leave her past behind. In her latest novel, »Largo pétalo de mar, novella« (2019; Eng. »A Long Petal of the Sea«), Allende addresses bravery and the courage to survive in a time of flight, migration, and upheaval.
Allende’s awards include the Premio Nacional de Literatura de Chile and the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. She is a member of the Academia de la Lengua in Chile, has been Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres since 1994 and was admitted to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004. Allende lives in California.
Watch the interview of Isabel Allende and Michi Strausfeld at the 20th ilb on our YouTube-Channel: