He was educated at Clarion University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In 2008, Silvis was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters from Indiana University of Pennsylvania for his distinguished literary accomplishments.
Silvis's personal web blog All Things Ill-Considered, complete with information regarding his various literary works, can be found at randallsilvis.wordpress.com 
He is the recipient of two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
- The Luckiest Man in the World, short stories (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1984).
- Excelsior, novel (New York: Henry Holt, 1988).
- Under the Rainbow, novel (Sag Harbor: Permanent Press, 1993).
- An Occasional Hell, novel (Sag Harbor: Permanent Press, 1993).
- Dead Man Falling, novel (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1996).
- Mysticus , novel (Los Angeles: Wolfhawk Books, 1999).
- On Night's Shore, novel (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2000).
- Disquiet Heart, novel (New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2002).
- Doubly Dead novel (2004)
- North of Unknown: Mina Hubbard's Extraordinary Expedition into the Labrador Wilderness, nonfiction (New York: The Lyons Press, 2005).
- Heart So Hungry (Lyons Press, 2005)
- In a Town Called Mundomuerto, novel (Richmond: Omnidawn Books, 2007).
- Hangtime, A Confession, novel (Crawfordville: Kitsune Books, 2009).
- The Boy Who Shoots Crows (Penguin, 2011)
- Flying Fish (PS Publishing, 2012)
- Two Days Gone novel (Naperville: Sourcebooks, 2017)
- The Bones' Embrace (Sourcebooks, Inc., 2018)
- Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 2006. PEN (Permanent Entry Number): 0000091276.
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