Sandra Benitez was raised in Mexico, El Salvador, and Missouri, and has lived in Minnesota since the 1970s. Her books reflect her bicultural Latin American and Midwestern background, focusing on the lives of characters such as Salvadoran maids, coffee pickers, and struggling American farmers and on events such as the civil war in El Salvador. She began writing at the age of 39 and published her first book, A Place the Sea Remembers, 13 years later. Including that work, she has written four books of fiction and one autobiography. Her first book of nonfiction, Memoir, was awarded a National Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature. Benitez lectures at universities and has been awarded many honors, including a Bush Foundation Fellowship and two Loft-McKnight Awards.