Woman of letters
Allende is one of the most heralded authors of the twentieth century, and has been a particular force and guiding light for female writers across the Spanish and English speaking worlds, and beyond.
She has written 20 novels and published several works of non-fiction, including a memoir, all translated into many languages and published across the world. Allende’s awards include Chilean National Prize for Literature (2010), Presidential Medal of Freedom (2014) and National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters (2018).
Notably, the female protagonists and supporting characters in her work paint a meaningful and complex picture of the female experience. These women, often from the same family or connected in some way, can always be counted on to feel passion; follow fate; seethe with rage; and make magic. Unconfined by gender, geography and germane thinking, Allende’s characters are always memorable for readers, leaving deep impressions as the pages of their tumultuous lives are turned.
The natural and supernatural life force that is Clara del Valle in The House of the Spirits springs first to mind here but the self-knowing amor fati of Eliza Sommers in Daughter of Fortune (said to be an alternate universe imprint of Allende herself) and Eva Luna from the 1987 novel of the same name, a roguish Scheherezade-style figure with Latin American flair, are equally unforgettable.