Introductions: Isabel Allende

On Tuesday, November 28, we welcomed the fiery, warm, and witty literary legend Isabel Allende to our 2017/18 Literary Arts Series, returning to the SAL stage thirty years after her first appearance in our premier season. 

Isabel was introduced by Sherry Prowda, the founder of Seattle Arts & Lectures and its first Executive Director. As SAL Executive Director Ruth Dickey said welcoming Sherry to the stage, “Thirty years ago, Sherry had a vision that Seattle was a city that deserved to have writers come share their ideas, their stories, and their process. . . Without her vision, tenacity, and leadership, none of us would be here tonight.”

Read on for Sherry’s introduction of Isabel.


By: Sherry Prowda, SAL’s Founder & First Executive Director

To the talented Ruth Dickey and her team: big thanks for seeing SAL through its extended adolescence and ensuring that at the ripe age of 30, SAL was at the top of its game doing what it does best – bringing the finest writers and thinkers to Seattle, for adult and student audiences, to feed our minds, open our hearts and start conversations. And boy, we need that more than ever, right? But just because SAL brings writers doesn’t guarantee you’ll come – but you do – you fill a 2,500 seat hall to hear a writer talk.

Back in 1990, following his SAL appearance, the wonderful Wallace Stegner wrote a letter to his editor commenting on this. “Dear Sam,” wrote Stegner – “Went up to Portland and Seattle last week and talked to thousands – my God, I was in lights like a rock star. And we found two great bookstores, Powell’s in Portland and Elliott Bay Books in Seattle. I have not sufficiently admired the Northwest. People there really read and take books seriously.”

Indeed we do because we know words matter, facts matter, truth matters, ideas matter, journalism – science – and our democratic values matter. I’m so grateful to be part of a community that fills halls for writers and thinkers. Thank you. 

Tonight we welcome Isabel Allende, author, humanitarian, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and founder of the Isabel Allende Foundation to empower women and girls. Allende has said – “I can promise you that women working together – linked, informed, and educated – can bring peace and prosperity to this forsaken planet.” What better day to welcome Allende then on Mayor Durkan’s first official day in office – Seattle’s first woman mayor in 90 years.

Allende’s voice is a powerful and vital one to many. She has authored over 20 books, from The House of the Spirits to her just-published In the Midst of Winter, has been translated into 35 languages, and has sold close to 70 million books worldwide. Her writing, often grounded in personal experience and historical events, pays homage to strong women, to the dispossessed, and the oppressed.

In her latest book, she writes of love and loss, “of life under a reign of terror, of harrowing escapes, and harrowing survivals.” She writes as she chooses to live – with passion and a belief in the curative power of love. As one critic noted, Allende embraces the cause of “humanity and does so with passion, humor, and wisdom that transcends politics.”

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