Chilean author Isabel Allende, sometimes called “the world’s most widely read Spanish-language author”, has achieved great commercial success with novels such as La Casa de los Espiritus (The House of the Spirits) and La Ciudad de las Bestias (City of the Beasts) among her many published works.
Perhaps the key to Allende’s great success is her flowing style of prose which is often likened to a skilled storyteller telling a tale orally. Allende often uses complex and very long sentences; she frequently digresses and repeats herself, just as a person telling a story tends to do, all of which adds to the appeal of her writing. At other times she creates impact by doing just the opposite and writing in the economical language of her journalistic past when she wants the action speaks for itself, a style she employs in some of her more brutal scenes to, in her own words, “grab the reader by the neck”.
Allende describes her writing as an organic process, one which she says she would be unable to do in any language other than her native Spanish, although she also speaks English well, having lived for many years in California. For such an acclaimed author, Allende remains very modest, and admits that her years in America have had a detrimental effect on her Spanish, to the point that she now needs a Spanish editor to correct mistakes and remove the American influences from her manuscripts.
Allende is a formidable writer who produces novels rich in emotion, vivid characters and strong plots. Her works are widely translated so if you need a few more Spanish lessons before you’re ready to tackle them in their original language, do make a point of discovering her in English.