She is a writer and professor of creative writing, Hispanic American literature and culture at New York University. She began her career as a short-story writer and cultural journalist. In 1997, she received a writing grant from the Chilean National Fund for Cultural Development and the Arts, and in 1998 she published Las infantas (Eterna Cadencia, 2011), highly acclaimed by Chilean critics.
She later received a PhD in Spanish-American Literature from New York University. In 2004, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for her novel Fruta Podrida (Fondo de Cultura Económica Chile, 2007) and in 2010, a National Endowment for the Arts grant from the US government for Sangre en el ojo (Blood in the Eye, Random House, 2012).
She has received numerous prizes and awards, including the Anna Seghers Prize (2011) and the XX Premio Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (2012). She was also the founder and director of Brutas Editoras, a now defunct independent imprint that operated between Santiago de Chile and Manhattan.
Apart from collections of short stories and novels, she has written acclaimed non-fiction books, such as Volverse palestina/Palestina en pedazos (Random House, 2014/2021), a literary memoir about her Palestinian origins, and the feminist pamphlet Contra los hijos (Random House Literature, 2018). Her work has been translated into twelve languages.