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Isabel Allende is the First Spanish-Language Author to Receive the National Book Award Medal

Bestselling Chilean author Isabel Allende received an honorary Lifetime Achievement National Book Award on Wednesday night, making her the first ever Spanish-language author to receive the honor. Allende is most famous for the blockbuster success of her 1982 novel, “The House of Spirits” that has sold more than 65 million copies worldwide. In total, she has written over 20 books.

The National Book Award medal is one of the highest honors in literature, previously being bestowed on literary greats like Arthur Miller, Joan Didion, and Toni Morrison. The fact that the National Book Award Committee awarded the medal to an author who writes exclusively in Spanish cannot be understated.

When accepting the award, Allende delivered a stirring speech that touched on themes of memories, alienation, and the power of storytelling.

Allende began her rousing acceptance speech by accepting the award “on behalf of millions of people like myself who have come to this country in search of a new life”. She went on to describe her life experience as that of a constant foreigner, as although she was born in Peru, she was raised in Chile. She said these experiences make her recognize the universal “incurable desire to belong in a place.”

But her speech didn’t stop there. She devoted the rest of her time on the podium to talk about her writing process, which she described as “taking notes” on her experiences.

“I draw on other people’s lives, especially the strong and passionate women that I meet everywhere,” she said. “I draw on the sorrow and the struggles of every day, on the joy of being alive and not afraid of death. I’m not afraid of life either. I refuse to live in fear and let alone to vote in fear”.

A former refugee herself, Allende didn’t back away from some painful topics.

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At Miami Airport onto Atlanta. #inthemidstofwinter

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Allende explained that she used her painful past to enrich her storytelling. “I was a political refugee for 13 years in Venezuela after the military coup of 1973 that ended a long tradition of democracy in Chile”, she said. “And I have been an immigrant in the United States for more than 30 years”. She went on to decry the international apathy towards refugees and displaced persons who “are forced to leave everything that is familiar to them and undertake dangerous journeys to save their lives”. According to her, Allende writes to keep their memories alive.

Allende concluded the speech with a touching message of unity and hope: “I write to preserve memory against the erosion of oblivion and to bring people together. I believe in the power of stories. If we listen to another person’s story, if we tell our own story, we start to heal from division and hatred.” She received a standing ovation.

Allende wasn’t the only Latina to sweep up prizes at the National Book Awards.

The 69th edition of the awards saw Latinx Dominican poet Elizabeth Acevedo and Chinese-Panamanian writer Sigrid Nunez accept awards as well. Acevedo won the award for young people’s literature for her book Poet X. Nunez won the honors in fiction for her novel “The Friend,” which focuses on a  writer who takes care of a friend’s Great Dane after they were driven to suicide.

Latina Twitter was quick to congratulate Allende on the prestigious recognition and thank her for her work.

This Cubana knows that a Lifetime achievement award is worth a Felicidades or two.

The fact is, Allende is one of the few Latina voices to be read by millions of people, regardless of nationality, across the globe.

The impact of her voice is profound.

This Latina made a point of explaining how important it is to read a story that echoes your own.

Indeed, there are countless Latinas in the US and elsewhere who are also “finding their own space” as foreigners.

Some Latinas applauded Allende’s speech that was chock-full of cutting wit and self-deprecating humor.

Talking about her “brave” lover, Allende held nothing back. And why should she? She is a proud, strong, passionate woman like the characters in her books.

But, Allende wasn’t the only Latina recognized with a National Book Award on Wednesday. Dominicana author Elizabeth Acevedo won the award for Young People’s literature for her book, “Poet X”, and Chinese-Panamanian author Sigrid Nunez won the prize for fiction for her novel “The Friend”. In the end, it was a powerful night for Latinas and Latina representation in the arts.

You can read Allende’s full acceptance speech here.


Read: First and Last Confession: What This Xicana Learned Marrying a Mexican

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Netflix Is Turning Gabriel García Márquez’s Classic ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ Into A Series

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Netflix Is Turning Gabriel García Márquez’s Classic ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ Into A Series

Fans of magical realism rejoice. On Wednesday, Netflix announced it acquired the rights to Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and will be turning the literary masterpiece into a Spanish-language series.

This is the first time the 1967 novel, considered “one of the most significant works of the 20th Century,” will be adapted for screen. For years, the author, who died in 2014, refused to sell the film rights, believing the story could not be done justice through a two-hour project, according to Deadline.

Rodrigo Garcia and Gonzalo García Barcha, García Márquez’s sons, who are serving as executive producers on the show, believe a series is an appropriate approach to the book.

“For decades, our father was reluctant to sell the film rights to Cien Años de Soledad. He believed that it could not be made under the time constraints of a feature film, or that producing it in a language other than Spanish would not do it justice,” Rodrigo Garcia told BuzzFeed News, adding that the “current golden age of series,” with “the level of talented writing and directing, the cinematic quality of content,” changed the family’s mind.

“The time could not be better to bring an adaptation to the extraordinary global viewership that Netflix provides,” he continued.

The series will be filmed in Colombia.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” tells the story of the multi-generational Buendia family, whose patriarch Jose Arcadio Buendia founded Macondo, a fictional town in the South American country.

The book has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into 46 languages.

In a statement, Francisco Ramos, Netflix’s vice president of Spanish-language content, said, “We know our members around the world love watching Spanish-language films and series and we feel this will be a perfect match of project and our platform.”

He’s right. Since announcing the adaptation, fans of the magical realism novel have been celebrating the news.

There’s no word yet on when the series will debut and who will star in it.

Read: This Film About Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is At The Center Of The Most Expensive Sundance Documentary Deal Of All Time

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Latina Reads: ‘Pride’ Is The Afro-Latinx YA Novel You Wish You Read As A Teen

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Latina Reads: ‘Pride’ Is The Afro-Latinx YA Novel You Wish You Read As A Teen

It’s no secret that Latinx representation is severely missing in media, especially for Afro-Latinos. Although the numbers are slowly getting better on television, movies and in music, the literary space is still lagging behind. But all of that is slowly changing in particular thanks to critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi, whose first novel, American Street, told the tale of young Haitian immigrant Fabiola Toussaint navigating the dangerous streets of Detroit on her own after her mother is detained by U.S. immigration.

Now, Zoboi brings us a timely update on the classic novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin — but this time told through the perspectives of Zuri Benitez (a.k.a. Elizabeth Bennet) and Darius Darcy (a.k.a. Mr. Darcy).

Zoboi’s latest masterpiece is titled Pride.

In Pride, we first meet Zuri, an Afro-Latina teen who has plenty of pride. She has pride in her roots, pride in her family and, most of all, pride in Brooklyn. But when the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri isn’t sure that her pride is enough to change the gentrification that is quickly happening in her beloved neighborhood. Even worse, her older sister Janae starts to fall for charming Ainsley at the same time as Zuri is thrown together with the arrogant Darius, who she can’t stand and wants nothing to do with.

It’s an unexpected joy to be drawn into the world of Pride, where so many changes are happening all at once. As Bushwick changes and families that used to live there for ages are priced out and Zuri begins to fight to keep her home, we readers are drawn into her battle quickly.

She is just the kind of Latina that we rarely read about before: She is smart, quick-witted and not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. She is passionate, cares deeply about her family and is, in a sense, even a little fearless. But she’s also still a teenager, which is part of what makes this novel so irresistible.

Zuri has all the hope and fears that we all had as kids about to turn into adults.

She sees the world changing and she doesn’t know what she can do about it but she wants to do something. It’s that passion and drive which makes her both a captivating character and someone we can relate to.

And perhaps because Zuri is a teenager or because this is a remix of Pride and Prejudice, there is the predictable romantic chaos. Soon enough, Zuri finds herself being pulled in different directions by her growing attraction to Darius, who she still kind of hates, and the oh-so-cute Warren (a.k.a George Wickham), who Darius kind of hates.

One of the most surprising and enchanting things about the novel, however, is the way the characters speak. Zoboi doesn’t try to dumb down or change their language. She doesn’t try to make them sound high-brow or proper, which some reviewers had a problem with, but she does make them sound like exactly who they are: An Afro-Latino family growing up in today’s Brooklyn. Zuri is unapologetically herself and the way she speaks is beautiful, complicated and not even remotely make-belief.

One of the big wins of Pride is that Zuri and the other characters sound like themselves with no pretense and just the right amount of class and a dash of sass.

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Repost from @owlcrate We were so thrilled to include Pride by @ibizoboi in our October box! It’s a modern day Pride and Prejudice remix set in Brooklyn, NY. It deals with many complex issues but is also totally swoon-worthy. And Ibi’s writing is absolutely stunning! ???? The edition we included featured an exclusive cover, exclusive end papers, exclusive color hardback, and it was SIGNED! The publisher truly put a lot of love into the design of this book! ???? Want to get your hands on a copy? We have some extras available for purchase at shop.owlcrate.com while supplies last. ???? Have you read Pride yet? What did you think?? ???? Photos tagged with the original creators! ???? OwlCrate Photo Challenge: Pride & Hot Pink. #ocbookstore ???? #owlcrate #subscriptionbox #bookstagram #pride #ibizoboi #exclusiveedition #bookmail #happyreading #currentlyreading #epicreads

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Without revealing too much about how the novel ends (you’ll have to actually read all of Pride for that), it’s safe to say that Zoboi deserves all of the praise that she has received for her work. But what really matters in a book like this isn’t how she “skillfully balances cultural identity, class and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic” (from the book’s back cover), though these things are all great too, but rather what it represents and means for future generation of Latinx kids picking up this young adult novel at their library, local bookstore or online.

A book like this can mean so much to those of us who grew up without seeing ourselves in the pages of the books we were taught in school or the books we found at the library. It’s why today, even as adults, we still pick up YA novels with the hopes of seeing our younger selves in their pages. A book like Pride reminds us of that. It reminds us of what it’s like to be a teen and it reinforces the importance of seeing yourself in literature.

The Haitian author, who recently took down an “insulting review” of Pride that made us all wish we had her clap-back game, touched on something special in the story of Zuri the Afro-Latina in Brooklyn. Here’s hoping Zoboi continues to write her black and Latinx representative novels for a long, long time.

Read: 13 Latina Fantasy Books For the Sci-Fi Lover in Your Life

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