She moved from town to town in Ohio throughout her childhood.
She is a member of PEN.
Her first novel, During the Reign of the Queen of Persia was published in 1983 and won the PEN/Hemingway Prize for First Fiction by an American author. The book was republished in 2014 by New York Review Books with an introduction by Meghan O'Rourke.
- 1990 Guggenheim Fellowship 
- 1987 Whiting Writers' Award
- 1984 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize
- 1983 PEN’s Ernest Hemingway Award
- During the Reign of the Queen of Persia. HarperCollins Publishers. 1983. ISBN 978-0-06-015136-2.
- The Evening Wolves. Ballantine Books. 1990. ISBN 978-0-345-36285-8.
- Bonneville Blue. Farrar, Straus, Giroux. 1991. ISBN 978-0-374-11539-5.
- Diamond, Jason (Mar 28, 2014). "Book of the Week: ‘During the Reign of the Queen of Persia’ by Joan Chase". Retrieved 15 October 2014.
- Donald J. Greiner (1993). "Joan Chase". Women without men: female bonding and the American novel of the 1980s. University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-87249-884-6.