A German-born American writer, she is most famous for her 1994 novel, Stones from the River, which was selected for Oprah's Book Club in 1997. Her other works include Floating in My Mother's Palm and Salt Dancers.
She attended the University of New Hampshire and later taught creative writing at Eastern Washington University.
She received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and five PEN Syndicated Fiction Awards.
She was born in Dusseldorf, Germany, and she moved to the United States at the age of eighteen. Two years later, she got married and became an American citizen.
She made an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show.