Born in North Carolina, he was raised in Michigan, and graduated from the University of Michigan and Stanford University with degrees in mechanical engineering, and from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has worked in forensic engineering and accident reconstruction.
He has published three books of fiction: The Reconstructionist, Articles of War, and In the Electric Eden: Stories.
Articles of War was listed by Esquire magazine as one of the best books of the year and was awarded the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the W. Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction from the American Library Association, and the Colorado Book Award. He is also the recipient of a Michener Fellowship and an Isherwood Foundation Grant. He has also had work published in The New Yorker. In 2008, Arvin was awarded a Literature Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts.
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