Isabel Allende to receive Medal of Freedom

President Barack Obama announced Monday that San Rafael-based writer Isabel Allende will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom later this month.

Allende, 72, will receive the award, the nation’s highest civilian honor, along with 18 others at a ceremony at the White House on Nov. 24.

She has published 21 books that have sold 65 million copies in 35 languages, according to the White House, including her successful novels “The House of the Spirits” and “City of the Beasts.”

Allende was born in Peru but spend most of her early life in Chile and lived there on and off until she was exiled by the 1973 coup.

She met her second husband, attorney Willie Gordon, during a visit to California in 1988 and later settled in the Bay Area.

The setting of her novel “Maya’s Notebook” alternates between Berkeley and Chile. She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her work as a journalist, editor and fiction writer.

Other Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients this year include musician Stevie Wonder, actor Meryl Streep and former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw.