Karen Tei Yamashita (Japanese: 山下てい, Born January 8, 1951 in Oakland, California) is a Japanese-American writer.
She is an Associate Professor of Literature at University of California, Santa Cruz, where she teaches creative writing and Asian American literature. Her works, several of which contain elements of magic realism, include novels I Hotel (2010), Circle K Cycles (2001), Tropic of Orange (1997), Brazil-Maru (1992), and Through the Arc of the Rain Forest (1990). Tei Yamashita's novels emphasize the necessity of polyglot, multicultural communities in an increasingly globalized age, even as they destabilize orthodox notions of borders and national/ethnic identity.
She has also written a number of plays, including Hannah Kusoh, Noh Bozos and O-Men which was produced by the Asian American theatre group, East West Players.
Yamashita was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Award. In 2011 she was named a Fellow of United States Artists.