Bestselling writer Isabel Allende will make a special spring appearance as part of the Talking Volumes book-club series. Allende has written 19 books, including "The House of Spirits," "Eva Luna" and "Inés of My Soul," that have been translated into 35 languages and have sold 57 million copies worldwide.
In a live event May 8 at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Allende will talk with Kerri Miller of Minnesota Public Radio about her new novel, "Maya's Notebook," set for release April 23. The interview will be rebroadcast on MPR. The Star Tribune will profile Allende on April 28.
A coming-of-age story, "Maya's Notebook" centers on Maya Vidal, a teenager abandoned by her parents who grew up in a rambling house in Berkeley, Calif., with her grandparents Nini, a Chilean emigrant, and Popo, an African-American astronomer. Popo's death sends Maya into a downward spiral. Along with a circle of girlfriends known as "the vampires," she turns to drugs, alcohol and petty crime. Events lead them to Las Vegas and a dangerous underworld, with Maya caught between warring forces: a gang of assassins, the police, the FBI and Interpol.
Nini helps Maya escape to a remote island off the coast of Chile. In the care of her grandmother's old friend Manuel Arias, surrounded by strange new acquaintances, Maya begins to record her story in a notebook as she tries to make sense of her family, her past and her own life.
Allende was born in Peru to Chilean parents. Her father was the Chilean ambassador to Peru, and she counts the late Chilean President Salvador Allende as a first cousin, once removed. After living in various parts of South America, Allende moved to the United States in 1987 and lives near San Francisco.
Talking Volumes is a partnership of Star Tribune and MPR, in collaboration with the Loft Literary Center. Last fall, the series hosted Junot Díaz, Erin Morgenstern, Jeffrey Toobin and Abraham Verghese. The 2013-14 season will commence in September, with writers to be announced this summer.