A Grandmother’s Generation Gap

Isabel Allende has seen her American grandchildren grow up to embrace technology and rugged individuality.
  • Transcript


Question: How has being a grandmother influenced your storytelling?

Isabel Allende: I wrote a trilogy of books for my grandchildren when they were in their early teens, or in puberty.  And now, unfortunately, I am suffering the empty nest syndrome because one of them is in college, the other is getting ready to go to college, and the three of them are emotionally detached.  They don't like me anymore—and I hate them, that’s the truth.  So, I’m so sorry that they are growing up.  So sorry.  But it influences my writing because they teach me all the time.  I learn about what’s happening in the world today, or how the world has changed, you know?  I’m not up-to-date with any of the technology that they were born knowing.
What differences do you notice between yourself and your American grandkids?

Isabel Allende: There are differences.  One of them is that I come from a place where family is very important.  We live in communities in extended families and we keep in touch.  I call my mother... if I don’t write, I call every day.  And so, we are always in each other's faces, which is maybe not good, but at the same time, very connected.  And that connection doesn’t end because the kid goes to school.  And here, the idea is that you are a self-made person and you are an individual—that's much more important than community.  And I see them... that my grandchildren can’t wait to get out of this Latin family.

Recorded on May 3, 2010
Interviewed by Priya George