Osborne was educated at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and at Harvard, and has since led a nomadic life, residing for years in France, Italy, Morocco, the United States, Mexico, Thailand, and Istanbul.
He is the author of the novel Ania Malina; a book about Paris, Paris Dreambook; the essay collection The Poisoned Embrace; a controversial book about autism called American Normal; and three subsequent travel books published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux between 2004 and 2009: a book about wine, The Accidental Connoisseur; The Naked Tourist; and an account of expatriate life in Bangkok called Bangkok Days. His short stories have appeared in many American magazines. His story "Volcano", originally published in Tin House, was selected for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories 2012. His novel The Forgiven was published in 2012 to widespread acclaim. It was selected by The Economist as one of the Best Books of the Year for 2012.
Osborne's next book, The Wet and the Dry, a travelogue about Islam and alcohol, was published in 2013. It was included in the Top 10 Books of 2013 by the New York Times Book Review critic, Dwight Garner.
Osborne has been published widely as a journalist in the United States, most notably in the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Gourmet, Salon, Playboy, and Condé Nast Traveler. He has also been an occasional op ed columnist at Forbes.com and is a frequent contributor to Newsweek International, The Daily Beast, and The Wall Street Journal Magazine. His feature for Playboy, "Getting a Drink in Islamabad", won a 2011 Thomas Lowell Award for Travel Journalism.
A novel, The Ballad of a Small Player was published by Hogarth in spring 2014 to considerable critical acclaim, both in the United States and the United Kingdom. The New York Times selected it as one of its 100 Notable Books of 2014. NPR also included it in its Year's Best Books of 2014. Neel Mukherjee picked it as one of his Books of the Year in The New Statesman. In the London Sunday Times, Robert Collins wrote : "A modern Graham Greene.... into this relatively quiet period for British fiction, someone remarkable and unexpected has emerged fully armed with a formidable, masterly grip on the British novel. At precisely the point where most novelists start to show signs of flagging, Osborne has hit his creative, fictional stride...and has arrived as a thrilling, exceptional talent in British fiction's landscape."
His most recent novel,Hunters in the Dark, was published by Hogarth in May 2015.
- "Books by Members – Optima (p. 18)" (PDF). Fitzwilliam College. 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- Osborne, Lawrence. Ania Malina. Jonathan Cape, 1986; Scribner's; King Penguin.
- Osborne, Lawrence. Paris Dreambook. Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 1990; Vintage Contemporaries.
- Osborne, Lawrence. The Poisoned Embrace. Bloomsbury, 1993; Pantheon.
- Osborne, Lawrence. American Normal. Copernicus Books, 2002. ISBN 0-387-95307-8 (hardcover, 224 pages).
- Osborne, Lawrence. The Accidental Connoisseur. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2004.
- Osborne, Lawrence. The Naked Tourist. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2006.
- Osborne, Lawrence. Bangkok Days. Farrar Straus Giroux, North Point Press, 2009.
- Osborne, Lawrence (30 October 2011). "Boxer, Godfather, Politician. Can Manny Pacquiao Do Everything?". Thedailybeast.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- Osborne, Lawrence (25 September 2011). "Pedro Almodóvar on the Verge". Thedailybeast.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- Josephs, Allen (18 October 1987). "In Love With a 'Lunatique' – New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- Malone, Denise. "An Interview With Lawrence Osborne". The New York Times.
- Woodward, Richard B. (24 July 2009). ""Bangkok Days" by Lawrence Osborne". The New York Times.
- Grimes, William (10 June 2006). "In 'The Naked Tourist,' Lawrence Osborne Travels Beyond Wherever". The New York Times.
- "Where Every Man Has Gone Before". The New York Times. 4 June 2006.
- "Interview With Lawrence Osborne: 'Bangkok Days' – Features". World Hum. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- Hendra, Tony (28 March 2004). "The Reign of Terroir". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- Jed Lipinski (13 May 2009). "Summer Guide: Lawrence Osbourne Pursues Redeemable Vulgarity in Bangkok Days – Page 1 – Books – New York". Village Voice. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- Will Self (13 June 1993). "BOOK REVIEW / A trip round the sexual psyche: 'The Poisoned Embrace: A Brief History of Sexual Pessimism' – Lawrence Osborne: Bloomsbury: 13.99 pounds – Arts & Entertainment". London: The Independent. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- ""American Normal" by Lawrence Osborne - Salon.com". Dir.salon.com. 6 January 2003. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- CONSTANCE CASEY (4 June 1991). "BOOK REVIEW : One Leprous View of the City of Light : PARIS DREAMBOOK: An Unconventional Guide to the Splendor and Squalor of the City By Lawrence Osborne Pantheon $21, 210 pages – Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- Hammer, Joshua (6 December 2009). "Holiday Travel Books". The New York Times.
- "Fiction Book Review: The Forgiven by Lawrence Osborne. Random/Hogarth, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-307-88903-4". Publishersweekly.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- Knopf, Chris (15 August 2012). "THE FORGIVEN by Lawrence Osborne | Kirkus". Kirkusreviews.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- Garner, Dwight (25 September 2012). "'The Forgiven,' by Lawrence Osborne". The New York Times.
- Sharma, Akhil (30 September 2012). "The Forgiven: Lawrence Osborne's Masterful Mystery". Thedailybeast.com. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- Garner, Dwight (19 December 2013). "Dwight Garner's 10 Favorite Books of 2013". The New York Times.
- Robert Collins (21 April 2013). "The Forgiven by Lawrence Osborne". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- "The Forgiven". Daily Mail. London.
- Garner, Dwight (23 July 2013). "Lawrence Osborne's Alcohol Quest in 'The Wet and the Dry'". The New York Times.
- Ulin, David L. (26 July 2013). "'The Wet and the Dry' is a nuanced cocktail of a book". Los Angeles Times.
- New York Times Search: Lawrence Osborne
- Osborne, Lawrence. "Letter from New Guinea: Strangers in the Forest". The New Yorker, 18 April 2005, p. 124.