Marlena Maduro Baraf | Author

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 late teens. 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 at Harper & Row Publishers and McGraw-Hill Book Company after which I studied at Parson’s School of Design and established my own design studio. In the last ten years I’ve dedicated myself to the compelling art and craft of writing. I’m a devoted alumna of the Sarah Lawrence Writing Institute.


Two loving sons have given me two amazing women as daughters-in-law. I am married to a funny, Brooklyn-born man. Life is strong. I endure the Mets. I love orchids and cats.

At the Narrow Waist of the World: a memoir is a mother-daughter story about mental illness and healing. Is mental illness fixed, or does it move in and out of focus? Mine is a story about forgiveness and acceptance. About leaving home and looking back and finding it again.

Several years ago I embarked on an adventure to learn about other Hispanics, Latinos, Latinx who, like me, live in the United States. What a wonderful revelation it’s been to interview individuals who share my native tongue and so many aspects of culture—even though the histories of our countries of origin are quite different, as are our experiences as immigrants in the United States. Follow my series, Soy/Somos, I am/We are. I’d love to have you join in on these conversations.

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