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Allende, Isabel

(Chilean, 1942– )

Isabel Allende was forced to leave Chile after the 1973 military coup that overthrew her uncle's government, and she began her first novel while in exile. The House of the Spirits (1985) traces the history of twentieth-century Chile through four generations of women of the Valle/Trueba family: Nivea, an early feminist; her daughter Clara, a clairvoyant; Clara's daughter Blanca, torn between family duty and her great love; and Blanca's daughter Alba, through whose eyes the military take-over is witnessed. Allende weaves myth and magic with realistic historical description. A strong theme in her writing is the capacity for human imagination to survive even the horrors of political violence, and she views story-telling as a means of ‘bearing witness’ to human experience.

The heroine of Eva Luna (1987) tells the story of her own life, alternating with chapters about Rolf Carle, a news journalist born in Austria. Eventually, the two meet through Huberto Naranjo, a guerrilla commander Eva befriended when they were homeless street children. Eva is a displaced person in an unnamed country which is clearly Venezuela, and must survive by her wits and through her skill in story-telling. At the end of the novel, she and Rolf become lovers and she finds success in writing her own television series in which she portrays the political injustices of her country. As in most of her novels, Allende mixes the colourful mythical imagery of South America with real political events.

Gabriel García Márquez, Louise

Erdrich, Jeanette Winterson.


Additional topics

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (A-Bo)