Roma Chrysostom was born in 1954 in Sri Lanka, to a Tamil father and Sinhalese mother. Her father was a poet and her mother was a journalist, who regularly contributed to a newspaper column. They married in secret due to their different ethnic and religious backgrounds and were subsequently disowned by their respective families. In 1964 the family migrated to England, where she grew up in Brixton, attending the local comprehensive school. She then attended a teacher training college before marrying Barrie Bullen, an English professor at Reading University.
In 2006 she was awarded an AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) Fellowship, at Brookes University, Oxford and worked for three years in museums around Europe on a project accessing narrative within the collections.
- Mosquito. Harper Collins. 5 March 2007. ISBN 0007233655.
- Bone China. Harper Collins. 2008. ISBN 0007240732.
- Brixton Beach. HarperPress. 2009. ISBN 9780007301560.
- The Swimmer. 2010. ISBN 9780007301591. (long-listed for the Orange Prize 2011.)
- The Road to Urbino. Abacus. 2012. ISBN 9781408703922.