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"He Gave Us Back Our History": Isabel Allende on Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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In an exclusive interview, Chilean novelist Isabel Allende remembers the life and legacy of late writer Gabriel García Márquez. She reads from his landmark novel "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and talks about how García Márquez influenced generations of thinkers and writers in Latin America and across the world. "He's the master of masters," Allende says. "In a way, he conquered readers and conquered the world, and told the world about us, Latin Americans, and told us who we are. In his pages, we saw ourselves in a mirror." Allende describes the first time she read "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and how it impacted her. "It was as if someone was telling me my own story," she says. We also air video of García Márquez in his own words and hear Democracy Now! co-host Juan González read from "The General in His Labyrinth."

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Today, we remember the Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez. He died Thursday at the age of 87. He's widely regarded as one of the century's greatest writers. His masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude, sold more than 50 million copies in 25 languages.

To talk more about Gabriel García Márquez, we're joined by Isabel Allende, the best-selling Chilean writer and one of Latin America's most renowned novelists. She's the author of some 20 books, including Maya's Notebook, The House of the Spirits, Paula, Daughter of Fortune. Her latest book is called Ripper. Allende now lives in California, but she was born in Peru in 1942 and traveled the world as the daughter of a Chilean diplomat. Her father's first cousin was Salvador Allende, Chile's president between 1970 and 1973. When Augusto Pinochet seized power in a CIA-backed military coup in '73, Isabel Allende fled from her native Chile to Venezuela.

AMY GOODMAN: We are joined right now by Isabel Allende, and it is an honor to have you with us for this hour to discuss the person who has so shaped literature, not only in Latin America-

ISABEL ALLENDE: In the world.

AMY GOODMAN: -but has had enormous influence all over the world. Talk about Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel.

ISABEL ALLENDE: It's hard to talk about him. It's very emotional. He's the master of masters. The boom of Latin American literature that took the world by assault in the second half of the century, began in 1963 with a novel by an unknown writer called Mario Vargas Llosa. And that's the moment when the world noticed that we had great writers. And there were-it was a choir of many voices. But the most important voice, the voice that really was the pillar of this movement, was García Márquez with One Hundred Years of Solitude. And every novel that he wrote afterward was not only acclaimed by the critics and translated, and he had innumerable awards, but they were popular novels. It was like reading Dickens or Balzac. People in the streets read García Márquez. Every book he wrote had popular acclaim. So, in a way, he conquered readers and conquered the world and told the world about us, Latin Americans, and told us who we are. In his pages, we saw ourselves in a mirror, in a way.     


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