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Magical Realism

D.A.N. Jones

1 August 1985
The House of the Spirits 
by Isabel Allende, translated by Magda Bogin.
Cape, 368 pp., £8.95, July 1985, 0 224 02231 8
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Linden Hills 
by Gloria Naylor.
Hodder, 304 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 9780340360330
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Careful with the Sharks 
by Constantine Phipps.
Cape, 216 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 9780224023085
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... It is obvious that Isabel Allende’s novel about Chile, The House of the Spirits, has something about it that appeals to women readers: but I cannot imagine what that something is. ‘Magical realism’ is the vogue-word: but this seems to me a farrago of fantasy-triggers. I was astonished when Marina Warner asserted on television that the book ‘gives you an astonishing understanding of a political situation ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The Size of Wales

23 May 2002
... ever by a bunch of writers – a hundred or so well-known authors from 54 countries, not including Isabel Allende, Bob Dylan or Gabriel García Márquez, who admirably declined to vote. The Guardian did a vox pop. New Puritan about town Nicholas Blincoe rather proudly let slip that he’s read 81 of the top 100; smashing Mark Lawson (69) into a measly ...
20 April 1995
Shelf Life: Essays, Memoirs and an Interview 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, July 1994, 0 571 17196 6
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... he reads from his new book and answers questions about sexual politics. Crowds stare in wonder as Isabel Allende reads from a new novel. After her reading she will sit at a table in a side stall and sign copies of her books. The queue to get her signature stretches into the next stall, where Thom Gunn is due to read, so we have to wait. There are maybe ...

Diary

Richard Gott: Víctor Jara’s Chile

17 September 1998
... I was not in Chile on 11 September 1973, the day 25 years ago when the government of Salvador Allende was overthrown. I was sitting in the Guardian’s old building in the Grays Inn Road when the news came in over the wires, but could not immediately fly to Chile, having a longstanding engagement to drive my family from Sussex to Yorkshire to establish ...

In the Box

Dale Peck

6 February 1997
How Stella Got Her Groove Back 
by Terry McMillan.
Viking, 368 pp., £16, September 1996, 0 670 86990 2
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Push 
by Sapphire.
Secker, 142 pp., £7.99, September 1996, 0 436 20291 3
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The Autobiography of My Mother 
by Jamaica Kincaid.
Vintage, 228 pp., £8.99, September 1996, 0 09 973841 4
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... sighs of relief were heard in the meeting rooms of New York publishing houses when the novels of Isabel Allende first began appearing in English, so that her name could be added to that of Gabriel García Márquez and, um, Jorge Luis Borges, and a decades-old phenomenon combining certain characteristically Post-Modern elements with certain ...

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