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My Invented Countryby Isabel Allende
Synopses & Reviews
In My Invented Country, Isabel Allende recalls the lost world of her roots, a version of Chile that vanished when General Pinochet's military junta erupted on September 11, 1973. Her uncle, President Salvador Allende Gossens, was assassinated in the coup. The social climate that had permitted her candid journalism was replaced by a brutal dictatorship.
Offering an evocative tour of Allende's often misunderstood homeland, My Invented Country transports us to compelling locales, while capturing the tumultuous events that led Allende to recognize her storytelling gifts.
Questions for Discussion What are your initial impressions of Chile as Isabel Allende presents it in her opening scenes? Does the landscape correspond to its inhabitants? In what ways does Allende's persona reflect this geography? The book's title reminds us of the subjectivity of memory. What recollections of your hometown might be shaped by your unique point of view? How would you describe your "invented" place of origin? Allende describes herself as a charismatic woman who speaks frankly, wears bold colors, and savors her meals without worrying about cholesterol. Do these traits make her more of an exception in California or in Chile? Allende powerfully recalls the aftermath of the September 11 military coup that launched Pinochet's reign of terror in 1973. She describes the fallout in personal terms: families torn apart by informants, a nation's faith in its electorate shaken, a vibrant cultural climate replaced by one of suppression. Discuss the parallels and distinctions between the trauma of Chile's 9/11 events and those that occurred in the United States exactly 28 years later. What did MyInvented Country reveal about Chilean attitudes towards sexism, racism and political correctness? How might this memoir have shifted had the author been male, or mestizo? Relatives — particularly grandparents — played a distinctive role in shaping Allende's sense of self and inspiring much of her fiction. She even maintains an almost daily correspondence with her mother. Which of your relatives most heavily influenced your character, and your sense of imagination? Allende writes that Chilean status was not heavily tied to wealth before the Pinochet years, but in contemporary Chile the ruling class is extremely affluent — possibly at the expense of a once-sizeable middle class. Is this situation uniquely Chilean, or do you believe that the 1970s and 1980s were marked by similar economic shifts around the world? My Invented Country is as much travelogue as memoir. What did you discover about the distinctions between various countries of South America, particularly Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Venezuela? How does Allende' South America compare to the other locales she has lived in, such as the Middle East and Europe? Allende's fiction often features characters who have unusual perceptions of reality, or are able to tap spiritual worlds as easily as tangible ones. Does My Invented Country evoke any of these themes? In what way does it complete the memories recorded in her memoir Paula? Did the book change your perception of your American identity?
About the Author
Born in Peru, Isabel Allende was raised in Chile. She is the author of the novels Portrait in Sepia, Daughters of Fortune, The Infinite Plan, Eva Luna, Of Love and Shadows and The House of Spirits, the short storycollection The Stories of Eva Luna, and the memoirs Paula, Aphrodite, and My Invented Country. She is also the author of City of the Beasts and Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, the first two in what will be a trilogy of children's novels. She lives in California.
"Isabel Allende [is] surely one of the most graceful and yet haunting writers alive." St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Riveting in its frankness and compassion...[Allende?s] account of why and how she became a writer is profoundly moving." Booklist
"Intriguing elements of the author?s captivating history." Publishers Weekly
"Dazzling as a kaleidoscope: an artful tumbling and knocking that throws light and reveals strange depths." Kirkus Reviews
"At every bend [Allende] delights us with unexpected humor." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Poignant....Allende?s keen intelligence and lively prose keep readers wishing for more." San Diego Union-Tribune
"Charming and entertaining." New York Times Book Review
"Marvelous....Allende?s love for Chile is so evident and eloquent that many readers will consider packing their bags and booking the next flight to Santiago." BookPage
"A stunningly intimate memoir....Allende is that rare writer whose understanding of story matches her mastery of language." Entertainment Weekly
Hailed by Salman Rushdie as "one of the most important voices coming out of Latin America," the best-selling author and human rights activist Ariel Dorfman delivers a memoir excavating for the first time his profound and provocative journey as an exile. In September 1973, the military took power in Chile, and Ariel Dorfman, allied to deposed president Salvadore Allende, was forced to flee for his life.Feeding on Dreamsis the story of the transformative decades of exile that followed. Dorfman portrays, through visceral scenes and powerful intellect, the personal and political maelstroms underlying his migrations from Buenos Aires, on the run from Pinochets death squads, to safe houses in Paris and Amsterdam, and eventually to America, his childhood home. And then, seventeen years after he was forced to leave, there is a yearned-for return to Chile, with an unimaginable outcome. The toll on Dorfmans wife and two sons, the "earthquake of language" that is bilingualism, and his eventual questioning of his allegiance to past and partyall these crucibles of a life in exile are revealed with wry and startling honesty. Feeding on Dreamsis a passionate reminder that "we are all exiles," that we are all "threatened with annihilation if we do not find and celebrate the refuge of common humanity," as Dorfman did during his "decades of loss and resurrection."
Isabel Allende evokes the magnificent landscapes of her country; a charming, idiosyncratic Chilean people with a violent history and an indomitable spirit; and the politics, religion, myth, and magic of her homeland that she carries with her even today.
The book circles around two life-changing moments. The assassination of her uncle Salvador Allende Gossens on September 11, 1973, sent her into exile and transformed her into a literary writer. And the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, on her adopted homeland, the United States, brought forth an overdue acknowledgment that Allende had indeed left home. My Invented Country, mimicking the workings of memory itself, ranges back and forth across that distance between past and present lives. It speaks compellingly to immigrants and to all of us who try to retain a coherent inner life in a world full of contradictions.
About the Author
Nacida en Perú, Isabel Allende se crió en Chile. Algunos de sus libros, La casa de los espíritus, De amor y sombra, Eva Luna, Cuentos de Eva Luna, El plan infinito, y más recientemente, Paula, raducidos a más de 25 lenguas, encabezan la lista de bestsellers en varios paises de America y Europa. Isabel Allende reside actualmente en California.
Born in Peru, Isabel Allende was raised in Chile. She is the author of the novels Portrait in Sepia, Daughter of Fortune, The Infinite Plan, Eva Luna, Of Love and Shadows, and The House of the Spirits, the short story collection The Stories of Eva Luna, the memoir Paula, and Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses. City of the Beast is her first novel for young readers. She lives in California.
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