Isabel Allende: ‘I still have the same rage’ squib

The renowned author on the unfinished task of replacing the patriarchy, swapping 24,000 letters with her mother, and why she gives all her books away

Isabel Allende’s books have been translated into more than 42 languages and sold some 75m copies globally. Her career spans fiction and nonfiction, and she’s also created the Isabel Allende Foundation in memory of her daughter (who died in 1992), working to empower women and girls around the world. Her new novel, Violeta, spans 100 years and recounts the turbulent life and times of its South American heroine. Allende, 79, who was born in Peru and raised in Chile, spoke from the study of her home in California, where she writes daily.

How did Violeta begin?
The idea started when my mother died, right before the current pandemic hit. She was born in 1920 when the influenza pandemic reached Latin America, so it was almost natural to have the two bookends of the novel be pandemics. When I write, I don’t have a plan and I don’t have a message – I just want people to come with me, to let me tell them a story.

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