Pearlman was born in Providence, Rhode Island. She graduated from Radcliffe College. She has worked in a computer firm and a soup kitchen and has served in the Town Meeting of Brookline, Massachusetts.
Her non-fiction has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Smithsonian Magazine, Preservation, and Ploughshares. Her travel writing – about the Cotswolds, Budapest, Jerusalem, Paris, and Tokyo – has been published in The New York Times and elsewhere.
In January 2015, her fifth collection of short stories, Honeydew, was chosen as one of Oprah Winfrey's 'top 19 books to read right now'.
Awards and honors
- 2014 Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize, shortlist, Binocular Vision
- 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award, Binocular Vision
- 2011 Edward Lewis Wallant Award, Binocular Vision
- 2011 PEN/Malamud Award
- 2011 National Book Award for Fiction, finalist, Binocular Vision
- 2008 Pushcart Prize XXXIII, "Door Psalm"
- 2006 Best American Short Stories 2006, "Self-Reliance"
- 2003 The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, "The Story"
- 2001 Pushcart Prize XXV, "Mates"
- 2000 Best American Short Stories 2000, "Allog"
- 1999 The Antioch Review Distinguished Fiction Award
- 1998 Best American Short Stories 1998, "Chance"
- 1991 Syndicated Fiction Award (from NEA)
- 1987 Syndicated Fiction Award
- 1984 The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, "Conveniences"
- 1978 The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, "Hanging Fire"
Short story collections
- Vaquita and Other Stories. University of Pittsburgh Press. 1996. ISBN 082296211X. Winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize
- Love Among the Greats and Other Stories. Eastern Washington University Press. 2002. ISBN 978-0-910055-80-2. Winner of Spokane Prize for Literature
- How to Fall: stories. Sarabande Books. 2005. ISBN 978-1-932511-11-6. Winner of Mary McCarthy Prize
- Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories. Lookout Books. 2011. ISBN 0982338295.
- Kathleen Coskran, Calvin William Truesdale, eds. (1998). An inn near Kyoto: writing by American women abroad. New Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0-89823-181-6.
- David Farley, Jessie Sholl, eds. (2006). "The Kiss". Prague and the Czech Republic: true stories. Travelers' Tales. ISBN 978-1-932361-33-9.
- Edith Pearlman, Author Spotlight, Pen/O. Henry Prize Stories
-  "Love Among the Greats by Edith Pearlman '57", Radcliffe Quarterly, Summer 2003
-  Works by Edith Pearlman, New York Times, "Travel" section
-  Edith Pearlman, Poets & Writers, Directory of Writers
-  Edith Pearlman website
- "The 2014 Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize Shortlist" (Press release). Book Trade. November 27, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2013.