Winter Park Institute

Maria Arana

Author of "American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood"


Maria Arana: American Bridgework; How Different are the Two Americas?

Event Details

On Tuesday, April 5, Winter Park Insitute Scholar Marie Arana presented her research on historic and current U.S./Latin American relations to the Rollins community. In two presentations in the Bush Auditorium, Arana discussed the cultural and political differences and similarities between North and South America, and how biculturalism plays an increasingly influential role in the lives of Americans today. 

  • Maria Arana: American Bridgework; How Different are the Two Americas?

  • American Chica: A New Kind of American

Speaker Bio

Marie Arana was born in Peru, moved to the United States at the age of 9, and completed her BA in Russian Language and Literature at Northwestern University, her MA in Linguistics and Sociolinguistics at Hong Kong University, and a certificate of scholarship (Mandarin language) at Yale University in China. She began her career in book publishing, where she was Vice President and Senior Editor at both Harcourt Brace and Simon & Schuster publishers in New York. In 1993, she started work at The Washington Post as Deputy Editor of the book review section, “Book World.” She was promoted to Editor in Chief of that section, a position she held for 10 years. Currently, she is a Writer at Large for The Washington Post and a Kluge Scholar at the Library of Congress. In 2008, “The Washingtonian” magazine called her one of the Most Powerful People in Washington. In 2009, she was Northwestern University’s Alumna of the Year.

Arana is the author of a memoir about her bicultural childhood "American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood,"  which was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award as well as the PEN/Memoir Award, and won the Books for a Better Life Award. She is the editor of a collection of Washington Post essays about the writer's craft, "The Writing Life: How Writers Think and Work" (2002), which is used as a textbook for writing courses in universities across the country. Her novel "Cellophane," about the Peruvian Amazon, was published in 2006 and selected as a finalist for the John Sargent Prize. Her most recent novel, published in January 2009, is "Lima Nights." She has written the introductions for many books on Latin America, Hispanicity and biculturalism. Currently, she is at work on a biography of Simón Bolívar, which is on contract with a major publisher.

Arana has served on the board of directors of the National Book Critics Circle and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. For many years, she has directed literary events for the Americartes Festivals at the Kennedy Center. She has served as an organizer for the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival. She has been a judge for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award as well as for the National Book Critics Circle. Her commentary has been published in The Washington Post, USA Today, The International Herald Tribune, The Week, Civilization, Smithsonian magazine, The National Geographic, and numerous other publications throughout the Americas.