Isabel Allende and Sandra Cisneros On Living With (And Writing In) Two Languages : Alt.Latino Isabel Allende (The Soul of a Woman) and Sandra Cisneros (Martita, I Remember You/Martita, te recuerdo) tell Alt.Latino about the role of women in Latino cultures, and why you kill off the handsome male character by page 112.

It's Lit! Latina Novelists On Living With (And Writing In) Two Languages

It's Lit! Latina Novelists On Living With (And Writing In) Two Languages

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Isabel Allende's (right) newest memoir is The Soul of a Woman, and Sandra Cisneros' (left) latest book is a bilingual tale of ex-pat Latinas in Paris, Martita, I Remember You/Martita, te recuerdo. Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images / NPR Illustration hide caption

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Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images / NPR Illustration

Isabel Allende's (right) newest memoir is The Soul of a Woman, and Sandra Cisneros' (left) latest book is a bilingual tale of ex-pat Latinas in Paris, Martita, I Remember You/Martita, te recuerdo.

Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images / NPR Illustration

Novelists Isabel Allende and Sandra Cisneros do not have much in common — their personal histories, writing styles and subject matter all differ — but what they do share is a towering presence as icons in the world of arts and letters.

But they also received outsized recognition for their first works, published just a few years apart: Allende's breakthrough magic realism novel La Casa de Los Espiritus was published in Argentina in 1982 (later translated and published in English as The House of the Spirits in 1985); Cisneros published The House on Mango Street, her Chicana realism novel, in 1984.

This week, we celebrate those differences in two wide-ranging conversations centered around their recently published books: Allende's newest memoir, The Soul of a Woman, and Cisneros' bilingual tale of ex-pat Latinas in Paris, Martita, I Remember You/Martita, te recuerdo.

But, as often happens during conversations with highly creative minds, the conversations touch on deeper philosophical matters: the role of women in Latino cultures, living and writing with two languages, and why you kill off the handsome male character by page 112.