Thanks to her magical storytelling talents, Chilean author Isabel Allende has received Denmark’s top literature prize: The Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award.
The honor celebrates a living author whose work best embodies the spirit of Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tales. The prize of about US$86,000 (CLP40,939,600) was awarded to Allende over the weekend at a ceremony in Odense, Denmark (Andersen’s birthplace) about 90 miles (150 km) outside of Copenhagen.
Allende is the third author to win the prize, following Brazil’s Paulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist, and Britain’s J.K. Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter series.
For Allende, The Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award is significant because she grew up reading and admiring the Danish writer’s stories.
“I especially cherish this prize because I hope that some of Andersen’s magic will rub off on me: he is the master storyteller. His stories shaped my childhood and now, as a writer, they are a source of constant inspiration and amazement,” Allende said in the ceremony’s program.
Allende is one of Chile’s most internationally recognized authors. Her 18 books have sold over 56 million copies worldwide, and have earned her a place on Forbes Magazine’s “10 Most Powerful Women Writers.”
Her best known novel, La Casa de los Espíritus (The House of the Spirits), is a fictional journey through Chile’s history through the lens of one family over four generations. The novel is written in a “magical realism” style in which extraordinary elements of the story (like clairvoyant characters) blend together with the real world.
El Cuaderno de Maya (Maya’s Notebook), published in 2011, is Allende’s latest work of fiction and has lead the bestselling book rankings in Spain, Argentina and Chile. The novel is set in the present – a new time period for the author – and tells the story of a 19-year-old American girl finding refuge from personal hardship on a remote island off the coast of Chile. The English translation of El Cuaderno de Maya is expected to be released later this year.