Isabel Allende talks about life, writing, covid-19 and her new book at the LeV festival – Vida


Chilean and American writer Isabel Allende, residing in the United States, was invited to the opening panel of the 14th edition of the LEV Literary Festival – Literatura em Viagem, which takes place in Matosinhos and which this year takes place by videoconference, due to the restrictions imposed by the covid-19 pandemic.

In a virtual conversation with readers, moderated by Helder Gomes, the author of “A casa dos espíritos” started by talking about the importance of travel and places in her life and in writing, and exemplified with a trip she made to India.

“After Paula’s death [filha da escritora] I was in an inner cave and the trip helped me out and it was very inspiring ”, he recalls, pointing out that, in his books, there is a“ strong sense of place and time ”and that all the trips he made appear in his books.

This was due to the fact that his whole life felt foreign in all the places where he lived, although they were all important, but they did not allow him to develop a strong enough sense of belonging.

Isabel Allende was born in Peru, where her father was at work, but has Chilean nationality, where she lived for a few years, before moving to Lebanon, Venezuela and the United States, where she has lived since 1989.

The country he always prefers to return to is Chile, but he confesses to being “very happy” to live in California.

Regarding the way he sees Latin America from California, he assumes that he sees it better than in the 1970s, when many countries lived under military dictatorships and had guerrilla movements, whereas today they are democratic governments, even though there is corruption , economic crises and governments that do not serve the population.

In other words, “it’s better, but there are still serious problems: I live in California and on the border with Mexico, there are refugee camps, thousands and thousands of people, especially women and children, asking for political asylum because they come from countries where you can’t to live, because of crime, drug trafficking, poverty and corruption, which are so serious that you cannot live. People seek refuge because they are desperate, and this is the situation today in Latin America ”.

Regarding her perspective, still as a resident in the United States, of the situation of the covid-19 pandemic in that country, Isabel Allende said: “Very badly, because there is no competent government”.

“There is a government led by Trump, which is characterized by inconsistency, incompetence and lies. There are already more than 80,000 dead, far more than in the Vietnam War, there are more killed by the virus than by all the wars that the United States has had, ”he said.

The writer noted that the governors of each state seek other solutions, but “the solution must come from the federal government and in this case there is no one to trust”.

However, he acknowledged that his situation is “privileged”, since he lives in a state with a governor that he considers good, and in a good house, located above the water.

“It’s fine with me, but people are suffering a lot, especially Latinos, most of them without documents, who are out of work and without insurance,” so without access to health services, he said.

In a reference to the weight of the family in some of her books, such as “A casa dos espíritos”, and answering the question whether the family always overlaps with politics, Isabel Allende stated that she depends on the family, remembering that, at the time of the socialist government of Allende, and after the military coup, in the dictatorship, there were families that were divided and never reconciled, but there were also those that remained united, even with ideological and political differences.

“The same is happening today in the United States with the polarization between Democrats and Republicans, the ideology and political anger is sometimes so great that it changes the family,” he said.

In “The House of Spirits”, “there is the family’s micro world and the macro world of a country that looks like Chile, and what goes on inside the family is a reflection of what goes on outside, the political and historical situation of the country ”He added.

Alluding to her various facets – woman, feminist, philanthropist and writer – and the fact that she once claimed that her greatest achievement was not to write but to love, Isabel Allende was asked about what was most important in her life.

“Being a writer is my public life, love is what I feel for the family. The action is not the same as the feeling. I don’t have to choose. I can be a writer, woman, feminist and philanthropist and live love intensely ”.

About love, he spoke about the family, especially about the death of his daughter Paula.

Isabel Allende said that her daughter died after a year in a coma, and that this year was “a long black night”, in which all days were equal, and that after her death she felt “a huge emptiness”.

It was then that she started to write “Paula” and “day by day, tear by tear” she realized what happened that year, she separated the events and this helped her to realize and accept that death was the only solution.

The writer also spoke about her creative process, assuming that she is very disciplined and sets aside a “sacred time” for writing, confessing some superstition, as she starts all the books on January 8, the date when she started “The house of the spirits ”, A book that made him successful. That is why he set the date for starting all the books, to give him luck.

The next project she is working on, which is due to be published in Spain and Portugal in November, is a non-fiction book, a memoir of her life, as a woman and feminist, and is called “Que we want las mujeres ”, revealed the author.

Asked about the importance of spirituality in her life, since she is so present in the work, Isabel Allende stated that she is not a religious person. He even confessed that “all religious institutions are horrified, because they are dogmatic, sexist and seek power”.

The spirituality he has is that “part that every human being has, that seeks to transcend, that seeks ethics”, and that “must be cultivated”. And that is what he cultivates “in life and in literature”.


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