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My Invented Country: A Memoir Paperback – April 27, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 199 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1st edition (April 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060545674
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060545673
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #229,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

"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 to Chile, Allende says she has "been an outsider nearly all my life." Her stepfather was a diplomat, so her family moved quite frequently. 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, language, its heroes and villains, and the government.

Allende fled Chile after the military coup on September 11, 1973. Twenty-eight years later, and now living in the United States, this date haunts her when terrorists attack New York City and Washington, D.C. 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Allende's novels-The House of the Spirits; Eva Luna; Daughter of Fortune; etc.-are of the sweeping epic variety, often historical and romantic, weaving in elements of North and South American culture. As with most fiction writers, Allende's work is inspired by personal experiences, and in this memoir-cum-study of her "home ground," the author delves into the history, social mores and idiosyncrasies of Chile, where she was raised, showing, in the process, how that land has served as her muse. Allende was born in Peru in 1942, but spent much of her childhood-and a significant portion of her adulthood-in Santiago (she now lives in California). She ruminates on Chilean women (their "attraction lies in a blend of strength and flirtatiousness that few men can resist"); the country's class system ("our society is like a phyllo pastry, a thousand layers, each person in his place"); and Chile's turbulent history ("the political pendulum has swung from one extreme to another; we have tested every system of government that exists, and we have suffered the consequences"). She readily admits her view is subjective-to be sure, she is not the average Chilean (her stepfather was a diplomat; her uncle, Salvador Allende, was Chile's president from 1970 until his assassination in 1973). And at times, her assessments transcend Chile, especially when it comes to comments on memory and nostalgia. This is a reflective book, lacking the pull of Allende's fiction but unearthing intriguing elements of the author's captivating history.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

My Invented Country is Isabel Allende's best book yet.
Amazon Customer
If you enjoy Allende's novels or even Latin American fiction, more generally, this book provides some interesting insights from a deeply engaged writer.
Govindan Nair
So it was with great interest and great pleasure that I read this book.
Patrick J. OConnor

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Govindan Nair on August 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Readers should not be misled by the title, referring to a journey through Chile. Certainly, this book is about Chile. And the first ten pages lay out the physical landscape, quoting the country's most famous poet Pablo Neruda, and referring the reader again to him for a soulful appreciation of the landscape:"To see my country with the heart, one must read Pablo Neruda...who in his verses immortalized the imposing landscapes, the aromas and dawns, the tenacious rain and dignified poverty, the stoicism and solitude.."
But this book is not a travelogue. Nor is it a deep historical or sociological analysis of Chile. Rather, it is an intensely personal and auto biographical view of the country through the eyes of one of its best known novelists, and partly from the vantage point of San Francisco, her adopted hometown in an adopted land.
The theme of displacement and identity recurs throughout the book, and very powerfully in the symoblism of the two September 11 dates which deeply marked the writer's life - the one in 1973 when her uncle Salvador Allende was overthrown and died in a violent CIA-backed military coup, and the other memorable date in 2001. Allende writes: "By a blood-chilling coincidence - histroic karma - the commandeered airplanes truck their U.S. targets on a Tuesday, Spetember 11, exactly the same day of the week and month - and at almost the same time in the morning - of the 1973 military coup in Chile, a terrorist act orchestrated by the CIA against a democracy."
If you have read House of the Spirits, Eva Luna, or other novels by Isabel Allende, this book will bring out many of these fictitious characters and place names in the context of a very real history and social setting.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is delightful, humorous, and beautiful like its author. A wonderful memoir full of insights about Chile and about life in the US. This book reflects Allende's warmth and passion. A brilliant book from a brilliant writer. Highly recommended.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lima VINE VOICE on September 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
My Invented County is billed as "a nostalgic journey through Chile." Personally, I thought it was more of a travelogue of emotions centered on Chile. Allende channels these emotions through her trademark energetic prose to present a vivid portrayal of the Chilean personality, the emotional impact the country's landscape has on its citizens, and the social mores which dominate Chilean interactions. What never lingers long in the background of this portrayal is Allende's examination of how these elements have shaped her as a writer. This reflective tone imparts to the reader that Allende is taking stock of her life before embarking on another direction.
I'm finding that I enjoy Allende's recent non-fiction books much more than her latest fictional works. The reason why is because her non-fiction contains much more passion than her fiction, which often comes off like a research project. Still, I don't think one needs to have read all of her other works to appreciate My Invented Country (although it doesn't hurt). Whether one is a long time Allende reader, a native of Chile, or neither, it'll be hard not to enjoy this touching journey though a country and a life.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Brian Maitland on May 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
Simply an amazing memoir that reveals more than I ever knew about Chile and Chileans. The funny thing is you start of thinking the book will be mainly about the events of Sept. 11, 1973, when Pinochet took power in a coup. It is not at all yet that event is really the one that has led Allende on this long journey as a observer of life par excellence.

In reality the book is more about a woman searching for her sense of place in a world turned upside down by living a life in exile. The honesty and power of her words is just so uplifting without descending into "look at me, me, me" sort of navel gazing.

If I could give it ten stars I would.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Roy E. Perry on July 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The terrorists attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, a traumatic day for the United States. In the same month and on the same day (Sept. 11) in 1973, Isabel Allende's Chile experienced its own trauma.
On that day almost thirty years ago, a CIA-engineered military coup brought down the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende, a cousin of Isabel Allende's father, and installed General Augusto Pinochet, a dictator whose reign of terror lasted for 17 years (1973-1990).
Isabel Allende has never forgiven Nixon, Kissinger & Co. for what she describes as an arrogant and brutal attack on human rights.
Nor was Chile an isolated case of America's bungled foreign policy. "The United States," she Allende, "has had a shameful record of overthrowing legally elected governments and of supporting tyrannies that would never be tolerated in its own territory: Papa Doc in Haiti, Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Somoza in Nicaragua, and many others."
But the news is not all bad. In Allende's opinion "the United States is beginning to realize that its policy of supporting tyranny does not solve problems--it merely creates new ones."
Born in Peru in 1942, Isabel Allende was reared in Santiago, Chile. Her new work, My Invented Country, is a memoir of her life as an exile and immigrant, wanderer and outsider.
"I never fit in anywhere," says Allende, "not into my family, my social class, or the religion fate bestowed on me. . . . When I was fifteen, I left the church forever and acquired a horror of religions in general and monotheistic faiths in particular. . . . My religion, should anyone be interested, can be reduced to a simple question: What is the most generous thing one can do in this case?"
At age 35, Allende became a divorcee.
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More About the Author

Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Isabel Allende is the author of eight novels, including, most recently, Zorro, Portrait in Sepia, and Daughter of Fortune. She has also written a collection of stories; three memoirs, including My Invented Country and Paula; and a trilogy of children's novels. Her books have been translated into more than twenty-seven languages and have become bestsellers across four continents. In 2004 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Isabel Allende lives in California.

My thoughts on Kindle en Español:

"El impacto de los libros electrónicos es formidable y está remeciendo a la industria del libro tanto como a los lectores. Aunque todavía la idea es relativamente nueva en español, ya se ha extendido en otras lenguas tan dramáticamente, que muchos autores nuevos publican en versión digital, saltándose a las editoriales. Confieso que soy adicta a mis Kindle y mi IPad, donde leo con letra grande y clara, en una pantalla liviana. Antes viajaba con una maleta de libros, ahora llevo mi biblioteca en la cartera y puedo adquirir nuevos libros en cualquier parte del mundo en pocos segundos. Dicen que los jóvenes le tienen miedo al papel y no tienen el hábito de leer - lo cual no es totalmente cierto - pero ahora pueden leer en sus pantallas. También dicen que la ficción desaparecerá, pero eso jamás ocurrirá, porque la humanidad necesita historias tanto como necesita oxígeno. Tal vez en el futuro el libro, ese compañero maravilloso, será un objeto de coleccionistas y de bibliotecas y nosotros, simples mortales, leeremos en pantallas. Pero seguiremos leyendo, de eso no tengo dudas." Isabel Allende

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