Isabel Allende will receive PEN Center USA’s lifetime achievement award

Isabel Allende
(Peter Morgan / Associated Press)

Isabel Allende, the celebrated Chilean American author of novels including “The House of the Spirits” and “Island Beneath the Sea,” will be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN Center USA, the West Coast version of PEN, at its annual literary awards dinner in September.

Allende, who lives in Northern California, is widely considered one of the world’s best Spanish-language authors. Her books have been published in 35 languages and sold 67 million copies.

Allende was born in Lima, Peru, and was raised there and in Santiago, Chile. She moved to the United States in 1987, the same year that her novel “Eva Luna” was published.


Allende writes her novels in Spanish. Her latest, “The Japanese Lover,” (translated by Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson) was released in November.

The cousin of former Chilean president Salvador Allende, she will be celebrated for her feminism, her commitment to social justice and her take on the 1973 military coup in Chile.

Previous recipients of PEN Center USA’s lifetime achievement award
include Joan Didion, Francis Ford Coppola, Elmore Leonard, Walter Mosely, Robert Pinksy, Octavia Butler, Ray Bradbury and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Allende will be presented with the award at PEN Center USA’s 26th annual Literary Awards Festival at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Sept. 28. The ceremony will be co-hosted by poet, actress and director Amber Tamblyn, and her husband, actor, writer and comedian David Cross.

The Pen Center USA award is one of many that Allende has received over the course of her 34-year career. She won the Chilean National Prize for Literature in 2010, and in 2014, she was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Obama, one of the highest honors available to American citizens.