Isabel Allende 1998 Recipient

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Chilean author, Isabel Allende won worldwide acclaim when her bestselling first novel, The House of the Spirits, was published in 1982. In addition to launching Allende’s career as a renowned author, the book also established her as a feminist force in Latin America’s male-dominated literary world.

She has since written nearly 20 more works, including Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna, Stories of Eva Luna, The Infinite Plan, Daughter of Fortune, Portrait in Sepia, a trilogy for young readers (City of Beasts, Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, and Forest of Pygmies), Zorro, Ines of My Soul, Island Beneath the Sea, Maya’s Notebook, Ripper and her latest book, The Japanese Lover. Nonfiction books include Aphrodite, a humorous collection of recipes and essays, and three memoirs: My Invented Country, Paula (a bestseller that documents Allende’s daughter’s illness and death, as well as her own life), and The Sum of Our Days.

Allende’s books, all written in her native Spanish, have been translated into more than 35 languages and have sold more than 65 million copies. She describes her fiction as “realistic literature,” rooted in her remarkable upbringing and the mystical people and events that fueled her imagination. Her writings are equally informed by her feminist convictions, her commitment to social justice, and the harsh political realities that shaped her destiny.

In addition to her work as a writer, Allende also devotes much of her time to human rights. Following the death of her daughter in 1992, she established, in Paula’s honor, a charitable foundation dedicated to the protection and empowerment of women and children worldwide.

Allende has received fifty awards in over 15 countries over the last 30 years including, Chile’s National Literature Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Selection Committee

Kathy Halbreich – Kathy Halbreich is the Associate Director of the Museum of Modern Art, where she focuses on developing strategies and curatorial policies designed to strengthen contemporary programming and initiatives at MoMA and MoMA PS1. Prior to her role at MoMA, Halbreich was Director of the Walker Art Center, leading the institution through its 2005 expansion.

Halbreich has received many honors including induction into the American Association of Museums Centennial Honor Roll, the Award for Curatorial Excellence from Bard College, and Chevalier of the French Order of Arts and Letters. She serves as Commissioner for North America and Cuba at the Gwangju Biennale (1995), as Curatorial Advisor for Carnegie International, and as a member of the Documenta X and Documenta XIII International Committees.

Gordon Davis – Early in his career, he played roles in the city administrations of Mayors Linsay, Beam and Koch, most famously as the Parks Commissioner in the Koch Administration. An attorney by profession, his clients include many corporations and a wide variety of not-for-profit organizations. Among the arts boards he serves on are the Dance Theater of Harlem, the Municipal Arts Society, the New York Public Library, the New York Public Theater Shakespeare Festival, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. He is the founding chairman of the newest constituent member of Lincoln Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the largest program in the world devoted to jazz in music.

Betty Allen – Betty Allen was an acclaimed American operatic mezzo-soprano. She had a renowned international career, collaborating with American composers like Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, David Diamond, Ned Rorem, and Virgil Thomson. Allen performed with companies including the New York City Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, and the New York Philharmonic.

After her career as a practicing musician ended, she went onto be a celebrated voice teacher and arts administrator, serving as the Executive Director of the Harlem School of Music. She was on the board of Carnegie Hall and the New York City Opera.

Martha Clarke – Martha Clark is an American theater director and choreographer. She is celebrated for her multidisciplinary approach to theatre, dance, and opera. Martha’s directorial credits include Garden of Earthly Delights, Vienna: Lusthau, Miracolo d’amore, Endangered Species, An Uncertain Hour, The Hunger Artist, Vers La Flame, Belle Epoque, Kaos, The Magic Flute, Cosi Fan Tutte, and Gluck’s Orfeo and Eurydice.

Clark is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” grant in addition to fellowships from the NEA and Guggenheim Foundation. Other awards include, Drama Desk Award, two Obie Awards and the LA Critics Award, the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Dance Magazine Award.

Pete Hamill – If you have read his most excellent memoir, A Drinking Life, you know that he originally planned to become an artist, but he soon discovered a talent for journalism. He made his reputation as a reporter, sportswriter and columnist and eventually rose to become editor-in-chief of both the New York Post and the New York Daily News. These days he’s a multimedia man of letters. Appearing frequently on radio and television, he has clearly made the transition from interviewer to interviewee. To give you an idea of his breadth, in your local bookstore, you will find his works in fiction, in non-fiction and in art. And you will find his articles and op-ed pieces in such diverse locations as The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, or Digital City on the Internet.