The Chilean novelist Isabel Allende is for many one of the best exponents of Latin American literature, an established author who has received awards in Latin America, the United States and Europe. Now she has also received the most important award in Chilean literature: the National Literature Prize.
The recognition was awarded by the Ministry of Education “taking into consideration the excellence and the contribution of her work to literature, which has attracted readers not only in Chile and abroad, but has been awarded numerous distinctions and has revalued the role of the reader.”
Her most notable creations include The House of the Spirits (1982), a novel whose film version starring Meryl Streep, Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons received several international awards and Of Love and Shadows, which was made into a film by Betty Kaplan, who included in her cast Jennifer Connelly and Spanish actor Antonio Banderas.
Other of her creations are Eva Luna and The Stories of Eva Luna, The Infinite Plan, Aphrodite, Daughter of Fortune, Paula, Portrait in Sepia, Inés of my soul and the trilogy for young readers composed of City of the Beasts, Kingdom of the Golden Dragon and Forest of the Pygmies.
Her writing career has been recognized with literary awards in various countries like USA, Mexico, Germany, Italy, Portugal and France. She has received 29 awards, including Novel of the year1983 (Chile) and Best Novel 1985 (Mexico) both obtained for The House of the Spirits, Author of the Year in 1984 and 1986 (Germany), while in Portugal she took home the Mulheres Award (Women’s Award) for Best Foreign Novel in 1987.
Despite all these accolades, the writer had never been recognized in Chile with the National Literature Prize, an award which in its 57 previous deliveries, only three women had received: the poet Gabriela Mistral (1951), Marta Brunet (1961) and Marcela Paz (1984), author of the successful children’s novel Papelucho.
Marcela Serrano, a leading figure of the new Chilean literature, commented at the prize ceremony: “There is a dimension of the work of Isabel Allende that this country, with its eternal provincialism, lets go: its strong and radical globality. Nobody, not even Neruda, is more read in the world. No one has placed our country in every corner of the planet like she has” she said.
But she was not only supported in Chile. For example, the Spanish literary agent Carmen Balcells in a letter to the jury, said: “If during the last 30 years Chilean literature has had a well known and read ambassador throughout the world, it has been none other than Isabel Allende.”
Ballcells also explained the virtues of the Chilean writer for narration: “Work after work, I have been impressed by the variety of themes and stories that she has been dealing with, as well as her endless narrative versatility. Her works, like those of the great novelists like Charles Dickens, Gustave Flaubert and Gabriel García Márquez, reach all types of readers, regardless of age, culture or social status.”
The prize which started in 1942 and is held every two years, had in its list for this year important authors such as Antonio Skarmeta, Poli Delano, Fernando Emmerich, Jorge Guzman, Enrique Lafourcade, Francisco Rivas, Germain Marin Diamela Eltit and Hernan Rivera Letelier.