After emigrating to New Jersey from Toishan, China, Chu completed his high school education and went on to receive a bachelor's degree from Upsala College and a master's degree in sociology from New York University.
Aside from writing, Chu also worked for the New York City's Department of Welfare and worked as the disc jockey for the Chinese Festival radio program on New York's WHOM-AM. He appeared on the television program What's My Line, identifying his occupation as a disc jockey, in 1961, concurrent with the release of Eat a Bowl of Tea.
Chu died in 1970 leaving behind his wife, four children and three grandchildren. Even though Eat a Bowl of Tea was originally published in 1961, Chu never witnessed the impact of his novel, as it was not well received by critics at the time. It wasn't until the novel was republished in 1979 that it was acknowledged as a pioneering contribution to Asian American literature.
- Chan, Jeffery. Introduction. Eat a Bowl of Tea. University of Washington Press.
- Shih, David. "Eat a Bowl of Tea by Louis Chu." A Resource Guide to Asian American Literature. 46