Claribel Alegría (b. 1924) is often considered the most important contributor to contemporary Central American literature. She was born in Estelí, Nicaragua, but spent most of her youth in the Santa Ana region of western El Salvador because of her father’s political exile. In 1943 she came to the United States to study at George Washington University, where she received her bachelors degree in philosophy and letters. She would not return to her country of origin until 1979, after the Sandinista National Liberation Front took control of the government. She is the 2006 laureate of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature.