MARLENA MADURO BARAF is a writer living in New York

Soy panameña y americana. Can you split the two? Born and raised in Panama, I chose to leave my tiny land for Los Estados Unidos de America--a newly minted immigrant. I was in my early twenties then. In my thirties, I swore allegiance to the country I’d adopted and became an American. I raised a family and worked as book editor and designer. 

My memoir, At the Narrow Waist of the World, forthcoming in the fall of 2019, traces the impact of a complicated and difficult mother on her young daughter. It's a coming of age story set in the heat of the tropics in Panama that moves from the "America" of Amerigo Vespucci to Alistair Cooke's "America."

Explore my published essays or my blog.


I was a small star in the galaxy of family. We traveled in pandillas that reconfigured for a cooling movie el domingo or tea at the house of one of our tías, comparsas at Carnaval, and hanging around in the heat. We learned to choke down a mean remark or swoon over the beauty. We were docile, bound together in comforting clusters. Certain that none of us would fall out.

from  At the Narrow Waist of the World