Karen Karbo’s first novel, Trespassers Welcome Here, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a Village Voice Top Ten Book of the Year. Her other two adult novels, The Diamond Lane and Motherhood Made a Man Out of Me, were also named New York Times Notable Books.

Karbo’s 2004 memoir, The Stuff of Life, about the last year she spent with her father before his death, was a New York Times Notable Book, a People Magazine Critics’ Choice, a Books for a Better Life Award finalist, and a winner of the Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction.

Her short stories, essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in Elle, Vogue, Esquire, Outside, O, More, The New Republic, the New York Times,, and other magazines. She is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and a winner of the General Electric Younger Writer Award.

Karbo is best known for her best-selling Kick Ass Women series, the most recent of which is How Georgia Became O’Keeffe, published in 2011. How to Hepburn, published in 2007, was hailed by the Philadelphia Inquirer as “an exuberant celebration of a great original”; number-one ebook best-seller The Gospel According to Coco Chanel appeared in 2009. Karen co-authored, with Gabrielle Reece, the recent New York Times bestseller, My Foot is Too Big for the Glass Slipper, and Julia Child Rules came out in 2013.

In addition, Karbo penned three books in the Minerva Clark mystery series for children: Minerva Clark Gets A Clue, Minerva Clark Goes to the Dogs, and Minerva Clark Gives Up the Ghost.

Karen grew up in Los Angeles, California, and lives in Portland, Oregon, where she continues to kick ass.


Motherhood Made a Man Out of Me

  • Introduction by Whitney Otto
  • fiction

Karen Karbo is a very funny writer – from near slapstick to wry wit. Amazing.

The New York Times

Brooke and Mary Rose are best friends. Brooke is the mother of a six-month-old. Mary Rose is pregnant. Brooke is married to Lyle, though, at times, she wonders why. Mary Rose would be married if Ward, the father of her child, weren’t already. Ward and Brooke are cousins… A comedy of manners and...Forward

The Diamond Lane

  • Introduction by Jane Smiley
  • fiction

This kind of novel is a devil to pull off…and Ms. Karbo has done her job brilliantly.

The New York Times Book Review

Reluctantly back home in L.A. after sixteen years in Africa, documentary filmmaker Mouse FitzHenry longs for the harsh, teeming jungle life her dark lens took in so lovingly. Wrenched stateside by a family emergency, with her longtime boyfriend/collaborator in tow, Mouse is instantly beleaguered by...Forward

Readings and events

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On the Hawthorne Books Blog

The Legend of Il Palio

Posted by Karen Karbo on 10 October 2014

Woohoo, makin’ it!

The A.V. Club and Basil Hayden’s Bourbon have been doing a series of parties around the country celebrating cocktails and craftsman. Called This is My (Fill In Name of City...Forward