Maria Laurino was born and raised in northern New Jersey. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she received a B.A. in English and government, and of New York University, where she received an M.A. in English and American literature. She began her career as a journalist for the Village Voice and later became the chief speechwriter to former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins. Laurino examined ethnic identity in her first book, Were You Always an Italian?, which was published in 2000 and became a national bestseller. Her second book, Old World Daughter, New World Mother (2009), a meditation on contemporary feminism, describes the pull and tug of growing up in an Old World family that prized dependence even as she later embraced a New World feminism that championed personal autonomy. Laurino's journalism has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Salon.com, and The Nation, and her essays have been widely anthologized, including in The Norton Reader. She teaches creative nonfiction at New York University.