Question: Why did you choose to move to the U.S. and become a
Isabel Allende: Yes, I came to the United States because I
fell in love and I forced my guy—I forced him into marriage. And so I
became a resident. And then I realized that I couldn’t bring my
children. I couldn’t sponsor my children if I wasn’t a citizen. So I
became a citizen. But by then, I had learned to love this country; I
have received a lot from this country. I'm very critical, but at the
same time I'm very grateful. And I want to give back. I belong here.
Question: Do you now consider yourself an American
Isabel Allende: I’m a writer. In Latin America they say
I’m a Latin-American writer because I also write in Spanish and my books
are translated, but I am an American citizen and my books are published
here, so I'm also an American writer.
Question: Are you a writer in exile?
Isabel Allende: No. Exile is something very specific.
Exile is when circumstances beyond your control, you were forced to
leave your land and you cannot return. That is very specifically to be
in exile. And I was a political refugee in exile for 13 years in
Venezuela. And then I moved to the United States and a year later we
had democracy in Chile and I could return to Chile, but I didn’t because
I was married, I had made the choice to stay here. So, now I am an
immigrant. I’m not an exile.
Question: Do you consider yourself a magic realist writer?
Isabel Allende: I think that life is very mysterious and there
are many things we don’t know. And there are elements of magic realism
in every culture, everywhere, read Toni Morrison, read South African
authors, it’s not only Latin-American. It's just accepting that we
don’t know everything and everything is possible.
Recorded on May 3, 2010
Interviewed by Priya George