An American fiction writer, he is known for works such as The Barnum Museum and In the Penny Arcade. His 1996 novel, Martin Dressler, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
After graduating from Columbia University, he pursued graduate study in English at Brown University.
His 2011 work, We Others: New and Selected Stories, won the 2012 Story Prize.
He was born in New York City and raised in Connecticut. He later settled in Saratoga Springs New York, where he taught at Skidmore College.
He and Robert Schenkkan were both recipients of the Pulitzer Prize.