Isabel Allende Day began November 27 with a tour of animation/illustration sketches inspired by her first novel for young adults, “City of Beasts,” and then continued with a stage adaption of her short story “Tosca.” But it wasn’t until after Allende and her husband William C. Gordon settled into arm chairs on stage at Morris Dailey Auditorium that people really got to hear from the world-renowned author.
She shared a few frightening details from the death of her 26-year-old daughter, a moment she said “broke my heart and changed my life.” And she recalled how it felt after a military dictatorship drove her and her children from their Chilean home:
“As an immigrant, you are nobody. You have to stand on your own strength.”
Yet the conversation was filled with lighter moments and clear affection between the the couple, who claimed to have contrasting approaches to everything from writing to walking the dog, though they clearly share a love of writing and living together in their Marin County home. Their connection to San Jose State? They met through a Spanish professor, who gave Allende one of Gordon’s books 35 years ago.
The day also included a short awards ceremony, when Allende was named a Fulbright Global Citizen for marrying art and activism in literature that resonates worldwide. She first won international acclaim in 1982 after the publication of her novel, The House of Spirits. Since then, she has published 19 books translated into more than 30 languages.
Isabel Allende Day was presented by SJSU, Circulo Hispanico, the Center for Literary Arts and the Department of World Languages and Literatures.