An American fiction writer, poet, and journalist, he is best known for his novel, Snow Falling on Cedars, which was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film. His other notable works include East of the Mountains and The Drowned Son.
He studied English and creative writing at the University of Washington. He worked as a teacher and a freelance writer before writing novels.
He published a 1992 essay collection entitled Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense.
He settled on Bainbridge Island in the Puget Sound with his wife and his four children.
His novel, Snow Falling on Cedars, was adapted into a film starring Ethan Hawke.