Karen Bender is an American novelist.
Karen E. Bender is the author of the short story collection Refund, (Counterpoint Press 2015), which was on the shortlist for the 2015 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, and the novels "A Town of Empty Rooms," (Counterpoint Press, 2013) and Like Normal People (Houghton Mifflin, 2000). "Like Normal People" was a Los Angeles Times Bestseller, a selection of the Barnes and Noble Discovery program, and a Washington Post Best Book of the Year. Writing about "A Town of Empty Rooms," reviewer S. Kirk Waslh said in the Boston Globe, "In the very best of fiction, an intimate, spiritual communion momentarily transpires between reader and author. In the case of Bender’s novel, these moments occur during these flawless passages of authentic longing and isolation. Like some of today’s best contemporary realistic authors, Bender skillfully excavates and animates the human fragilities and missteps of life, transporting the reader deeper into the narrative and the interior lives of her characters." 
Her short stories have appeared in magazines including 'The New Yorker, Granta, Ploughshares, Zoetrope, Story, The Kenyon Review, Guernica, Narrative, The Harvard Review and The Iowa Review'. Her fiction has been anthologized in the Best American Short Stories, Best American Mystery Stories, New Stories from the South and The Pushcart Prize series and has been read as part of the "Selected Short" series at Symphony Space in New York.
Bender has taught fiction writing at the Writer's Voice program in New York, as well as the MFA programs at Antioch Los Angeles, Chatham University, Tunghai University in Taiwan, and the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is currently the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Hollins University. She has received grants from the Rona Jaffe Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is also co-editor of the nonfiction anthology Choice.
"Town of Empty Rooms," Counterpoint Press, 2013
- Like Normal People, Karen Bender, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, (April 14, 2000) ISBN 978-0-618-12692-7
- The Curse of the Aspiring Messiah, Karen Bender, Southeast Review online
- Writers Corner, NEA