Mary Karr was born on January 16, 1955, and grew up in an East Texas oil town. She is an award-winning poet and bestselling memoirist who is perhaps best known for her memoirs, Lit (Harper, 2009), about her struggles with alcoholism; Cherry (Penguin Books, 2000); and The Liar’s Club (Penguin Books, 2005), about Karr’s upbringing in Texas. The Liar’s Club was a winner of the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction and a New York Times bestseller for over a year. It was also named one of the fifty best memoirs of the past fifty years by the newspaper.
Karr is also the author of five poetry collections: Tropic of Squalor (Harper, 2018), which was long-listed for the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; Sinners Welcome (HarperCollins, 2006); Viper Rum (Penguin, 1998); The Devil’s Tour (New Directions, 1993); and Abacus (Carnegie Mellon, 1986).
Karr’s poetry grants have included a Whiting Award, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Radcliffe Bunting Fellowship, and a Guggenheim. She has won prizes from Best American Poetry as well as Pushcart Prizes for both her poetry and essays.
Karr is the Jesse Truesdell Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University and lives in both Syracuse and New York City.