Chicago-born Peter Orner has lived in the San Francisco Bay area for the past sixteen years. He is the author of two novels published by Little, Brown (The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo, 2006, Love and Shame and Love, 2010) and two story collections (Esther Stories, 2001, 2013 with new foreword by Marilynne Robinson and Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge, 2013), as well as the editor of two oral histories (Voice of Witness/ McSweeney's/ Verso). Peter's fiction and non-fiction has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly, Granta, The Paris Review, McSweeney’s, The Southern Review, and many other publications. Stories have been anthologized in Best American Stories and twice received a Pushcart Prize. Peter has been awarded the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy in Rome, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a two-year Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship, as well as a Fulbright to Namibia.

His latest book, Am I Alone Here?, an essay collection/ memoir, was published in November, 2016 by Catapult with illustrations by Peter's brother, Eric Orner. A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Am I Alone Here? is now in its third printing. 

Peter also wrote the introductions for a re-issue of Mavis Gallant's novel, A Fairly Good time, (New York Review of Books, 2016) and Gina Berriault's Women in Their Beds (Counterpoint, 2017)

A new book of oral history, Lavil, set in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and co-edited with Evan Lyon, was published by Voice of Witness/ Verso, in May, 2017. 

A film of one of Peter's stories, "The Raft," (with screenplay by Peter and Rob Jones) recently premiered at the Woods Hole Film Festival in Woods Hole, Massachusetts in 2015. 

Peter currently holds the Dartmouth Professorship of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College. He also teaches at the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.  For many years he was on the faculty at San Francisco State University, and has taught at the University of Namibia (Fulbright Scholar), the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop (Visiting Professor), Northwestern, the University of Montana (William Kittredge Visting Writer, 2009), Washington University (Visiting Hurst Professor, 2008), Bard College (Bard Fiction Prize Fellowship, 2007), Miami University, and on the law faculty of Charles University in Prague . Peter is a proud former member of the Bolinas, California Volunteer Fire Department.