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San José honors writer Isabel Allende

Veronica Taylor Ramirez

World renowned writer Isabel Allende was honored in City of San Jose and San Jose State University with “Isabel Allende Day,” a day to celebrate her contributions to the literary world, Tuesday November 28th.“Isabel Allende Day” featured an exhibit in Martin Luther King Jr. Library where students showcased their appreciation for Allende. San Jose State’s Animation and Illustration Program created sketches based on her novel “The City of the Beasts.”

Theatre   Arts Program at SJSU also performed an adaptation of Allende’s story, “Tosca”

The San Jose City Council also honored Allende with a commendation and certificate.

That afternoon, Morris Dailey Auditorium at San Jose State University was filled to capacity with students, teachers, press, and devoted Allende fans of all ages.“I remember being in graduate school, and all of a sudden a woman showed up in our classes who we could read for the first time and she wasn’t Santa Teresa,” said Lisa Vollendorf  SJSU Dean of College of Arts and Humanities of Allende’s literary works. “That really was a formative moment in my own career, which I then devoted in all of my research of women’s literature.”

Allende’s literary works have been translated into thirty-seven languages.She has sold more than 57 million books. Her works are said to have changed the academic discipline of Latin American fiction by changing the role of women.

“I never thought I would be a writer because there were not very many role models, I was born in the 40s, in Chile, in a very conservative backward society,” said Allende. “The only women writers I knew of were English.”

Her husband, William “Willy” C. Gordon, is also a distinguished mystery novelist on his own terms. Gordon was also recognized for his literary works as well as his earlier contributions to the Hispanic community for his work as a lawyer.

What Gordon and Allende share are a connection with San Jose State University. It was through a former SJSU professor that led Allende and Gordon to meet for the first time.

“It was chance to have to great authors here and to recognize that they have ties to San Jose State, so that makes San Jose State shine,” said Anita Fountain, SJSU Spanish Professor and coordinator of Isabel Allende Day. Fountain said she was not suprised to see the crowds at the day’s event.

“What attracted me to her books is her activism for women and immigrants,” said Susan Duran, SJSU anthropology major. “She said language is like blood, I like that she always connects back to her heritage.”


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