Joseph O'Connor was born in Dublin. He is the author of nine novels, two collections of short stories, and a number of bestselling works of non-fiction. He has also written film scripts and radio and stage-plays. His novel Star of the Sea was an international bestseller, selling more than a million copies and being published in 38 languages. It won France's Prix Millepages, Italy's Premio Acerbi, the Irish Post Award for Fiction, the Nielsen Bookscan Golden Book Award, an American Library Association Award, the Hennessy/Sunday Tribune Hall of Fame Award, and the Prix Litteraire Zepter for European Novel of the Year.
In 2009 he was the Harman Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Baruch College, City University of New York. He holds an honorary Doctorate in Literature from University College Dublin, and received the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature in 2012. He lives in Ireland and is the Inaugural Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick.