Karen Kao is the child of Chinese immigrants who settled in the United States in the 1950s.
As a young lawyer in Washington, DC, she fell in love with a Dutchman. Karen moved with him to Amsterdam. Unfazed by a new language, culture and legal system, she launched a second career as a high-flying corporate lawyer.
In 2011, she abandoned the law for a third career: a return to her love of writing and the stories she heard as a child of Old Shanghai. She writes: ‘My heart belongs to Shanghai. It’s the star of my novel.’
Kao is a former student of Lan Samantha Chang from the Paris Writers Workshop (2013) and of Yiyun Li at the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference (2016).