Marianne Villanueva's fiction searches for truths both universal-jealousy, anger, grief, insecurity-and particular to the immigrant experience-idealism, fragmentation, and disillusionment. Born and raised in Manila, Villanueva was 17 when she was accepted to the University of the Philippines Writers Workshop and 25 when she entered the Creative Writing Program at Stanford University, where she later received a Stegner Fellowship. Her first collection, Ginseng and Other Tales from Manila (1991), short-listed for the Philippines' National Book Award, pictures characters amid the urban violence and crushing poverty of the late Marcos years.
In 2005, she published Mayor of the Roses: Stories, a collection that, unlike earlier literature by Filipino Americans, “leans toward a more feminist framework as it highlights instead the cracks surrounding the lives of immigrant women and the traces of interaction among families,” according to the Pacific Rim Review. Villanueva's work has also been anthologized widely, including in Charlie Chan is Dead (1993), and she co-edited Going Home to a Landscape (2003), an anthology of Filipina women's writings named a Notable Book by the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize judges. Villanueva lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.