Internationally Renowned Author Isabel Allende to Speak at COM on May 12

Isabel Allende stood in front of maple treesCollege of Marin (COM) will host Isabel Allende on Thursday, May 12, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the James Dunn Theatre, Kentfield Campus.

The event features an onstage interview with award-winning Chilean author Allende following the world premiere student performance of an excerpt from Allende’s 1987 collection of short stories, “The Stories of Eva Luna,” dramatized and directed by COM Instructor Erin McBride Africa with performers from the College’s Drama program. The event is free and open to the public. No ticket is required to attend, and free parking is available on campus.

Isabel Allende: Live at College of Marin is presented by COMmon Read, the College’s shared reading program and year-long reading festival to celebrate the joy of reading and bring the College community together around a single book. This year’s featured readings included Allende’s “The Stories of Eva Luna” and her 2019 novel, A Long Petal of the Sea. COMmon Read has given away 800 copies of Allende’s books in Spanish and English.

Following the student performance, COM English Professor Dave King will interview Allende and take questions from the audience. Isabel Allende: Live at College of Marin will celebrate Allende; Spanish and Latinx cultures; feminism; democracy; and bilingual, immigrant, and refugee families.

“For our COMmon Read selections, we choose authors who will inspire our students. And since our College student body is over 30% Latinx and Isabel Allende lives about 20 minutes from the College, she was a natural choice,” said COM Librarian David Patterson. “This entire year, we've been studying, reading, and discussing Ms. Allende's recent novel, A Long Petal of the Sea, to understand how people behave when democracy is threatened. What a privilege for us to live during this time when the future of democracy in our country depends on us, and what an honor to have Ms. Allende discuss how we might stand against authoritarianism with courage and grace.”

A novelist, feminist, and philanthropist, Allende is one of the most widely-read authors in the world. She has sold more than 75 million books with translations in more than 35 languages. In addition to her work as a writer, Allende devotes time to human rights causes.

Patterson said the COMmon Read discussion and study of Allende’s A Long Petal of the Sea has reemphasized what’s at stake in the United States. Learning about the fight for democracy in Spain and Chile decades ago fortifies students to stand up for democracy now, during a time when basic democratic values and norms, intellectual freedom, and the dignity and well-being of immigrants, refugees, African Americans, women, LGBTQ+, Jews, Muslims, and others are being threatened.

“Ms. Allende's upcoming presentation will be, among other things, an act of resistance to authoritarianism. The January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was a call for all of us to defend the Constitution and democracy, and we look to Ms. Allende to offer wisdom, hope, and maybe even practical advice for this struggle,” continued Patterson. “I fell in love with Ms. Allende's books 40 years ago when I was 16. As Ms. Allende turns 80 years old this year, it's inspiring to see a whole new generation of students fall in love with her, too.”

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