Mysticism and inspiring contradictions seem to surround Isabel Allende

Magic, mysticism and inspiring contradictions seem to surround Isabel Allende. She is arguably Chile’s most famous living writer, and yet, she doesn’t live permanently in her homeland, opting instead to continue her exile, which dates back to the dangerous days following Salvador Allende’s removal from office in the 1973 coup d’etat.

Her relationship to the socialist president – he was her father’s cousin, thus her uncle once removed – coupled with her work as a journalist and commentator, necessitated her hasty departure from her homeland. But Chile still remains front and center in her life and her work, and Allende returns for several months most years to revisit and reconnect with the land and people that inspire her.

As a writer, Allende has enjoyed massive success. Her books have been translated into 35 languages, selling more than 65 million copies worldwide. She is perhaps most famous for the novels The House of the Spirits and Eva Luna, but she’s authored more than 20 books over her long career, winning countless international accolades for her work, which draws its inspiration not just from her past, but also from the idiosyncrasies and intricacies of her homeland’s landscape and people.

Isabel Allende: Hospitality… I think we’re very hospitable people, especially with foreigners. Not so much with each other. But you’ll always find opened houses and people ready to welcome you. You know people just drop in, you don’t need to call or be invited. Just drop in. As soon you cross the threshold of a Chilean house you’ll be offered something to drink. Even in the most modest house, where they have nothing, they will offer you tea or water or whatever they have. I think that’s our nicest trait.