Isabel Allende will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, President Obama announced Tuesday. Allende, whose best-known book is "The House of the Spirits," is the only novelist among the 19 recipients of the nation's highest civilian honor.
"From activists who fought for change to artists who explored the furthest reaches of our imagination; from scientists who kept America on the cutting edge to public servants who help write new chapters in our American story, these citizens have made extraordinary contributions to our country and the world," Obama said.
The other creative arts recipients include musician Stevie Wonder, composer Stephen Sondheim and actors Meryl Streep and Marlo Thomas.
Also receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom this year will be U.S. Rep. John Dingell and former congressman Abner Mikva, broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw, activist Suzan Harjo, golfer and activist Charles Sifford, activist Ethel Kennedy, scientist Mildred Dresselhaus and economist Robert Solow.
Several awards will be given posthumously: to California congressman Edward Roybal, choreographer Alvin Ailey and congresswoman Patsy Takemoto Mink, as well as to James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, the three civil rights activists who were murdered in Mississippi in 1964.
The Presidential Medals of Freedom will be awarded at the White House in a ceremony on Nov. 24.