Barnhardt took his B.A. at Michigan State University, and was a graduate student at Brasenose College, University of Oxford, where he read for an M.Phil. in English. He teaches fiction-writing to undergraduate and graduate students at the North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where he is a faculty member in the Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing.
- Emma Who Saved My Life St. Martin's Press, 1989
- Gospel St. Martin's Press, 1993
- Show World: A Novel St. Martin's Press, 1999
- Lookaway, Lookaway St. Martin's Press, 2013