“Allende’s books feel like ornate fairy tales, velvety and otherworldly and sly, as full of mystery as history,” states Los Angeles Times.
Named “the queen of magical realism” by Los Angeles Times, Allende is known for her stories, which consist of profoundly personal, political and historical writings. Her bestselling first novel, The House of Spirits, was written in exile from her home country of Chile. She has produced 20 works of fiction and memoir since, all incorporating both lively romanticism and the distinctive knowledge formed by her own life experiences.
The House of the Spirits, originally a farewell letter to her dying grandfather, was published in 1982, and launched Allende’s career, bringing her international praise. The novel additionally determined Allende to be a feminist agent in the predominantly male literary world in Latin America. Allende’s novels include Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna, Stories of Eva Luna, The Infinite Plan, Daughter of Fortune, Portrait in Sepia, Zorro, Ines of My Soul, Island Beneath the Sea, Maya’s Notebook and Ripper. She also wrote Aphrodite, a collection of recipes and essays, and three memoirs: My Invented Country, Paula and The Sum of Our Days.
Both entertaining and educating readers by incorporating historical events into her fascinating narratives, Allende includes Chile throughout the 15th, 19th and 20th centuries, the California gold rush, the guerrilla movement of the 1960s in Venezuela, the Vietnam War and the 18th century slave revolt in Haiti as the settings of her books.
Allende was a distinguished journalist in Chile during the late 1960s and early 1970s, her life forever changed in 1973 after General Augusto Pinochet conducted a military coup that overthrew the socialist reform government. With her cousin, Salvador Allende, killed in the revolt, Allende volunteered with groups offering help to the victims of this mutiny. However, with the danger present in Chile, she escaped with her husband and two children in 1975, living in exile in Venezuela for the subsequent 13 years. Allende has received many international tributes and awards for the past 35 years for her self-described “realistic literature.”
Unsurprisingly, she additionally spends a great portion of her time dealing with human rights. In 1992, after the death of her daughter, she created a charity in Paula’s honor, committed to protecting and empowering women and children worldwide. Becoming a U.S. citizen in 1993, Allende currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area; however, she has never forgotten her Chilean roots.