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 the British University of Hong Kong, and an MA equivalent (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 literary supplement, “Book World.” She was promoted to Editor in Chief, a position she held for 10 years. Currently, she is a Writer at Large for The Washington Post and a Senior Consultant in Hemispheric Affairs to the Director of the Library of Congress. In 2008, “The Washingtonian” magazine called her one of the Most Influential 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 latest book is “Bolívar: American Liberator,” a biography of the South American liberator Simón Bolívar, published by Simon & Schuster in the United States and Orion/Weidenfeld & Nicolson in the United Kingdom.