An American fiction writer, she is known for A Stolen Tongue and The Dress Lodger. The latter work was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 2000.
She worked for several years at Penguin Books and also became the assistant to a literary agent. She published her first novel, A Stolen Tongue, in 1997.
She was a founding member of The Moth, a storytelling collective.
She grew up in Hanover County, Virginia and graduated from the College of William & Mary with a degree in theater. She later settled in New York City.
She received the Shirley Jackson Award for best novel.