This week in Chilean literature

The English translation of Isabel Allende’s Maya’s Notebook has finally been released, and here are a few reviews:

From the Huffington Post:

From Booklist:

From the Seattle Times:

Ok, that’s enough for now.  And The New Yorker has a story in its April 22 edition, “Mexican Manifesto,” by the prolific Robert Bolaño. Once again, this blogger wonders whether the Chilean writer really did die in Barcelona a decade ago and might not be in hiding and continuing to produce fiction:

From the island of Chiloé

If you’ve been waiting impatiently for Isabel Allende’s latest book, El Cuaderno de Maya, to come out in English, the release date is still months away. The web site of Harper Collins, Allende’s publisher, lists only an audio book version of Maya’s Notebook available in April of next year. Amazon tells readers to “sign up to be notified when this item becomes available.”

According to the Florida Sun-Sentinel Allende’s longtime translator has fallen ill and  she had hoped the book would come out this year. “But I have no idea. It’s a very contemporary book about a 19-year old girl. By the time it comes out it will be a historical novel. Pisses me off.”

Maya, the teenager in question, finds refuge from a life of drugs and crime on the island of Chiloé in southern Chile. My friend and colleague Lezak Shallat recently visited Chiloé and offers the following glimpses of life there:

“Matias Millacura makes ravels, the three-string Chilote violin. His instruments have travelled far and wide, as attested to a photo on the wall of his house, showing Pres. Ricardo Lagos presenting one to the mayor of Paris.”


“Ana Delia Huenuman, age 91, lives on the far side of Huillinco Lake, in Cucao, on the far side of  Chiloe island. She panned for gold, lived in the bush for several months after losing her house to the 1960 earthquake and has planted potatoes and tended sheep all her life. Today she sits by the warm stove in the house of her grandson Manuel and his lovely, hospitable family. My thanks to them for this new friendship.”

Gringa in Chile

English-speakers won’t get to read it until next year, but Isabel Allende’s latest book, El Cuaderno de Maya, or Maya’s Notebook, was launched last month in Santiago, and this blogger has a signed copy next to her computer.  Maya is a troubled American teenager who seeks refuge from crime and drugs on Chiloe, the largest island in Chile’s southern archipelago.  An excerpt:

“Chiloe has its own voice. Before I never used to take off my headphones, the music was my oxygen, but now I stay alert in order to understand the Chilotes’ convoluted Spanish. Juanito Corrales left my iPod in the same pocket of my backpack where he took it out and we have never mentioned the matter, but the week when he delayed returning it to me I noticed I didn’t miss it as much as I believed I would. Without the iPod I can hear the island’s voice: birds, wind, rain, the crackle of wood, wagon wheels and at times the remote violins of the Caleuche, the ghostly boat that navigates in the mist and is recognized by the music and bone rattle of shipwreck victims who come aboard singing and dancing.”

The author’s bilingual web site: