Wednesday, April 11, 2007 · LBJ Student Center Mall · 7 p.m.
The crowds that attend Isabel Allende's lectures and readings are a testament to the impact her body of work has had on generations of readers. A native of Chile, she was forced into exile following the assassination of her uncle, President Salvador Allende. Since then, she has become a true romantic and social activist and one of our great novelists, "that rare writer," Entertainment Weekly proclaims, "whose understanding of story matches her mastery of language."
Allende's works chronicle the human condition in all its joy, beauty, pain and sorrow. Her best-selling novels include The House of the Spirits, Of Love and Shadows, Paula, Zorro, and the Oprah pick, Daughter of Fortune; each one showcases her astonishing historical and emotional range as a writer. In her memoir, My Invented Country, she delves into the social mores and idiosyncrasies of her native land, Chile. Ines of My Soul, her latest book at the time of her Texas State speech, is a historical novel about the conquest of Chile, based on the life of a woman who, with her lover, built the city of Santiago.
Allende has received many international awards, including the prestigious Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, granted to a writer "who has contributed to the beauty of the world." She is also the founder of the Isabel Allende Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting programs that promote and preserve the fundamental rights of women and children to be empowered and protected.
—Adapted from the original event program distributed at Isabel Allende's LBJ Distinguished Lecture
“That is what I want for myself, a passionate heart, and that is what I need for the characters in my books. I want mavericks, dissidents, outsiders, rebels, adventurers, people who ask questions, who bend the rules, and who take risks. Nice people with common sense do not make interesting characters; they only make good former spouses.”
“Those extraordinary women inspired me. I have a foundation, which I created to honor my daughter Paula, whose premature death broke my heart. The stories of Wangari Maathai and Somaly Mam reinforce my belief that it is through women that we can make a difference in the world. Women can change the culture. We need at least fifty percent of women in every level of management because women want a world where the resources that are spent in war are spent in bringing comfort, health, and education to everybody.”
“Women do two-thirds of the world labor, and yet they own less than one percent of the assets. In any modern war, many more civilians than soldiers die, and of those civilians, eighty percent are women and children; they are collateral damage. If a woman is empowered, her children will not starve, and her family will be better off.”
“Book by book, I have created a universe of my own. My grandchildren say that I have a pueblo en mi cabeza, a village in my head, and that I live there, and that is really empowering. I spend half of my life alone, in silence, writing. Mine is the best job in the world.”