Steven Amsterdam was born and raised in New York City. He attended Bronx High School of Science, the University of Chicago and the University of Melbourne. He worked as a map editor, book jacket designer and pastry chef before moving to Australia in 2003. His writing has appeared in The Age, Conde Nast Traveller, Five Chapters, Huffington Post, Meanjin, The Monthly, Monument, Overland, Sleepers Almanac and Torpedo's Greatest Hits.
Things We Didn't See Coming was first published in Australia by Sleepers Publishing in 2009. Alternately described as a novel or linked story collection, the book follows the narrator from Y2K into the future. The book won The Age Book of the Year and was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier's Prize. In 2010, the book was published by Pantheon Books in the United States, where it was a Barnes & Noble Great New Writer selection, and by Harvill Secker in the United Kingdom, where it was longlisted for The Guardian First Book Award. The Guardian called the book "refreshingly unapocalyptic." Starting in 2011, the book was selected for the Victorian Certificate of Education for year 12 English.
What the Family Needed, a novel that follows a family with special powers over decades, was first published by Sleepers Publishing in 2011, where it was shortlisted for The Age Book of the Year, the ALS Gold Medal, and longlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Award and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
His books have been translated into Dutch, French, Italian and Hebrew.
International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, longlist for 2013, What the Family Needed
Australia Council for the Arts, recipient, Grant for New Work The Age Book of the Year, shortlist, What the Family Needed
Griffith University, writer-in-residence Prime Minister's Literary Awards, longlist, What the Family Needed
ALS Gold Medal, longlist, What the Family Needed
Rosebank Fellowship, Writer's Victoria
New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards for New Fiction, shortlist, Things We Didn't See Coming
The Guardian First Book Award, longlist, Things We Didn't See Coming
Discover Great New Writers, Barnes & Noble, selection, Things We Didn't See Coming
The Age Book of the Year, Fiction Book of the Year, winner, Things We Didn't See Coming
- Cunningham, Sophie. "New Territories". Meanjin. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
- Steger, Jason (22 August 2009). "Apocalyptic Novel Wins Book of the Year". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
- Jordan, Justine (4 September 2010). "Things We Didn't See Coming by Steven Amsterdam". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 5 August 2012.