Adams earned her Bachelors degree at Princeton University in 1981, graduating magna cum laude. She then attended Columbia University, graduating with an M.A. in English and American Literature in 1982.
She was a staff writer for The Washington Post, and The Dallas Morning News. Once a resident of Washington,she now lives in Harlem, New York City, regularly contributes to the New York Times Book Review, and is a fellow at the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Adams and Dan Malone of The Dallas Morning News shared the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, citing "reporting that charged Texas police with extensive misconduct and abuses of power", including rights violations.
Her first novel was published in 2004, Harbor, featuring North African Arab stowaways. It won accolades including Los Angeles Times Award for First Fiction, Virginia Commonwealth University First Novelist Award, and Entertainment Weekly Best Novel of 2004, and it made the New York Times Best Books of 2004 list.
Her second novel, The Room and the Chair, was published in 2006 and details the life of an American fighter pilot. The German-language edition is Crash (Zürich: Arche, 2011).
Lorraine Adams is a singular and important American writer. The Room and the Chair establishes this without question: It is remarkable for its ambitions and its achievements. It's a war novel, a reporter's novel and a psychological thriller. It encompasses the broadest outlines of our world. It is also Adams' second novel, and it is gutsier and throws a wider net than the topical and gorgeously written Harbor, her first. Both books are about U.S. involvement in the Middle East, about psychological and political blowback, about what happens when you wage a war and then suddenly it slaps you back, blindsides you.
- 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting
- 2006 VCU First Novelist Award
- 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship
- "Almost Famous", Washington Monthly, April 2002
- Harbor, Random House, Inc., 2005, ISBN 978-1-4000-7688-8
- The Room and the Chair, Knopf, 2010, ISBN 978-0-307-27241-6
- NYC 22 "Block Party" July 2012[clarification needed]
- "washingtonpost.com - search nation, world, technology and Washington area news archives". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- "Lorraine Adams Author Bookshelf - Random House - Books - Audiobooks - Ebooks". Random House. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- "Crime and Punishers on Streets of Harlem". Jeremy Egner. The New York Times. April 4, 2012. Arts & Leisure p. 13.
- "The Pulitzer Prizes | Investigative Reporting". Pulitzer.org. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- "Lorraine Adams - John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". Gf.org. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- "Lorraine Adams: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- "DNB, Katalog der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek" (in German). Portal.dnb.de. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- Amy Wilentz (2010-02-21). "'The Room and the Chair' by Lorraine Adams - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- "Fourth Annual VCU First Novelist Award Reading, Lorraine Adams". Blackbird.vcu.edu. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- "Joseph O’Neil, Lorraine Adams, and Colum McCann Named 2010 Guggenheim Fellows - GalleyCat". Mediabistro.com. 2010-04-15. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- ""Almost Famous" by Lorraine Adams". Washingtonmonthly.com. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- Harbor - Lorraine Adams - Google Books. Books.google.com. 2007-12-18. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- "Turning Secret Intelligence to Fiction", The Wall Street Journal, ALEXANDRA ALTER, FEBRUARY 3, 2010
- "Five Debut Novelists. One Rock 'n' Reading Tour.", Powell's
- "The Leonard Lopate Show", WNYC, March 18, 2010
- "Up Front", The New York Times, THE EDITORS, May 18, 2008
- Adams, Lorraine at WorldCat — library records for works by multiple people with the name Lorraine Adams, not yet differentiated by the Library of Congress