Spain’s Cabinet announced Friday the appointment of Isabel Allende, the world’s most widely read Spanish-language author, to the Council of the Cervantes Institute, whose mission is promoting the language, literature and culture of the Iberian nation.
The council is responsible for guiding the Cervantes Institute’s activities, and its members are drawn from representatives of Spanish and Latin American culture and letters, universities and other social institutions.
Besides recipients of the Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious literary honor in the Spanish-speaking world, the council includes Latin American writers such as Tomas Eloy Martinez, Juan Villoro, Federico Luppi, Angeles Mastretta and, starting Friday, Isabel Allende, replacing Peruvian poet Blanca Varela, who died in March.
Born in Lima in 1942, where her father, Tomas Allende – cousin of future Chilean President Salvador Allende – was posted as a diplomat, Isabel Allende published “La Casa de los Espiritus” (House of the Spirits), her first novel, in 1982, and with it began a literary career marked by many successful works.
Her books have been translated into more than two-dozen languages and 51 million copies of her novels have been sold.
Last month she presented in Spain her latest novel, “La Isla Bajo el Mar” (The Island Under the Sea), in which she recounts the life of a mixed-race slave in 18th-century Hispaniola.
A California resident for the last 21 years, Allende has won numerous prizes and distinctions, including France’s Grand Prix d’Evasion, the Gabriela Mistral Prize in Chile, the Italian Bancarella Prize and the Chevalier des Artes et des Lettres distinction in France.