Samrat Upadhyay was born in Kathmandu, Nepal, but has spent almost as much of his life in the United States as he has in his native country. His parents were civil servants and saw to it that their son was well versed in English. When he was twenty-one, Upadhyay won a scholarship to the College of Wooster in Ohio, where he earned a bachelor’s degree. He had first thought that he would major in business but found that he was not particularly drawn to that subject, so he switched to English because of his love of literature. He soon enjoyed high praise from his professors for his command of the English language, so when he was considering graduate school, he decided to pursue a creative writing degree at Ohio University. He followed this up with a doctorate from the University of Hawaii.
Upadhyay was at the University of Hawaii when he wrote and published his short story “The Good Shopkeeper,” which he has stated launched his career as a writer. It was only the second short story of his to be published, and it appeared in the university’s literary magazine Manoa. Since then, Upadhyay has published several more short stories, most of which have been collected in his Arresting God in Kathmandu. This collection has brought Upadhyay awards and high praise. His next publication was the novel The Guru of Love.
Besides his writing, which he practices every morning for three hours before his family awakens, Upadhyay is also a teacher. He has taught English in Nepal and in Saudi Arabia. Later, he taught creative writing at Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio. In addition to his teaching assignments, Upadhyay has been an editor for Travellers’ Nepal and for Hawaii Review.
In 1993, Upadhyay returned briefly to Nepal. It was there that he married his wife, Babita. As of 2005, the couple had one child, Shahzadi. As of 2005, Upadhyay teaches creative writing on the graduate level at Indiana University in Bloomington.