Chilean author Isabel Allende received the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Prize from Denmark's Prince Frederik at a ceremony held at the Danish city of Koncerthus on Sunday.
According to the judging panel, Allende was selected to receive the award, which comes with 500,000 Danish kroner ($86,000) "for her qualities as a magical narrator and her talent for captivating her public.”
The author of "The House of the Spirits" expressed her thanks for the honor, which she called one of the most "meaningful" she has received because it bears the name of the celebrated Danish storyteller and is "a tribute to fantasy, to magic."
"Andersen's stories were the first I heard as a little girl. My mother read them to me in Spanish," she said in her acceptance speech. Those stories "stimulated my curiosity, nourished my fantasy and taught me things about loyalty, love, greatness, the pains and losses of life.”
The ceremony at Koncerthus, at which music was provided by the Odense Symphony Orchestra, brought to a close a day that began hours earlier with a reading symposium at the Central Library.
Before about 100 guests, Allende first read a portion of her work "The City of Beasts" and discussed her childhood, her start as a writer, and her method of writing and constructing her characters through her Danish translator.
Allende lunched at the city hall before visiting Andersen's museum-home and then going to Koncerthus to receive her award, which also includes a bronze sculpture and an official certificate.
The Chilean writer joins British author J.K. Rowling, the creator of the Harry Potter saga, as a recipient of this recently-created award, which was established by a private foundation in cooperation with the Odense City Hall.
Allende in 2005 was one of the ambassadors for the International Year of Hans Christian Andersen organized by Danish authorities to celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of the country's most famous author, and she also visited Denmark on that occasion.