Karen Bender


Nonfiction, Fiction


Karen Bender the author of the story collection Refund, published by Counterpoint Press in 2015; it was a Finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction; it was also on the shortlist for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize, and the longlist for the Story Prize. It was also a Los Angeles Times bestseller. A new collection, The New Order, was published by Counterpoint Press in November, 2018, and was on the longlist for the Story Prize. She is also the author of the novels Like Normal People, (Houghton Mifflin) which was a Los Angeles Times bestseller, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year, and a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and A Town of Empty Rooms (Counterpoint Press).

Bender's short fiction has appeared in magazines including The New Yorker, Granta, Ploughshares, Zoetrope, Story, The Yale Review, Electric Literature, Narrative, The Harvard Review, Guernica, and The Iowa Review. Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Best American Mystery Stories, and New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best and have won three Pushcart prizes. Bener's stories “Eternal Love” and “The Fourth Prussian Dynasty” have been read in the Selected Shorts program on NPR, and my story “The Cell Phones” has been read by Levar Burton on Levar Burton Reads. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rona Jaffe foundation.

Bender is also the co-editor of the nonfiction anthology Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, and Abortion. She is the Fiction Editor of the online literary magazine Scoundrel Time.

Karen Bender is currently a Visiting Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at Hollins University. I’ve also taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Tunghai University in Taiwan, the MFA programs at Warren Wilson College, Antioch Los Angeles, Chatham University, the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and at the Iowa Summer Writer’s Festival. In addition to her role at Chatham, she is a Mentor in SUNY Stonybrook’s Bookends program, and a Faculty Mentor at Alma College’s new low-residency MFA program.