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My Invented Country

by Isabel Allende

ISBN 1417628480 / 9781417628483 / 1-4176-2848-0
Publisher San Val
Language English
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Book summary

"Nostalgia is my vice," admits Isabel Allende in My Invented Country. A question about nostalgia propels an exploration of her past, including the complicated history and politics of Chile, where she spent the better part of her childhood. Despite her strong connection with Chile, Allende says she has been an outsider nearly all her life. Her stepfather was a diplomat, so her family moved quite frequently. However, in her travel diary Allende compares everything to Chile, her "one eternal reference" point.

"From saying goodbye so often my roots have dried up," she notes. She successfully reclaims them, however, through two channels. Allende relays anecdotes about what she calls her untraditional family--whom she has based some of her novels upon, including The House of the Spirits. Like a few of her novels, though, her own story is lost in heavy policy analysis. Interspersed among her ancestors' tales is an all-too-exhaustive report of Chile: the terrain, its people, customs and language, its heroes and villains and its government.

Allende fled Chile after the military coup on September 11, 1973. Twenty-eight years later and now living in the United States, she is haunted by this date when terrorists attack New York City and Washington, DC. Allende admits that the place she is homesick for may have never existed. In spite of that, Allende asserts that she can live and write anywhere: "I don't belong to one land, but to several, or perhaps only to the ambit of the fiction I write." The irony is that she steadfastly has "one foot in Chile and another here". --C.J. Carrillo, [via]