Why you should listen to her:
As a novelist and memoirist, Isabel Allende writes of passionate lives, including her own. Born into a Chilean family with political ties, she went into exile in the United States in the 1970s — an event that, she believes, created her as a writer. Her voice blends sweeping narrative with touches of magical realism; her stories are romantic, in the very best sense of the word. Her novels include The House of the Spirits, Eva Luna and The Stories of Eva Luna, and her latest, Ines of My Soul and La Suma de los Dias (The Sum of Our Days). And don’t forget her adventure trilogy for young readers — City of the Beasts, Kingdom of the Golden Dragon and Forest of the Pygmies.
As a memoirist, she has written about her vision of her lost Chile, in My Invented Country, and movingly tells the story of her life to her own daughter, in Paula. Her book Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses memorably linked two sections of the bookstore that don’t see much crossover: Erotica and Cookbooks. Just as vital is her community work: The Isabel Allende Foundation works with nonprofits in the SF Bay Area and Chile to empower and protect women and girls — understanding that empowering women is the only true route to social and economic justice.
“Allende can spin a funny, sensual yarn, but she can also use her narrative skills to remind us that parallel to our placid and comfortable existence is another, invisible universe, one where poverty, misery and torture are all too real.”
Patricia Hart, The Nation