Susan Zakin was born in New York City, and moved to the American West in the 1980s. After publication of her first book, Coyotes and Town Dogs: Earth First! and the Environmental Movement (Viking), she was called "the female environmental Hunter Thompson." She was awarded a fellowship to train environmental journalists in Madagascar, where she became interested in gem smugglers and mercenary soldiers. Her research eventually led to the novel The Afterlife of Victor Kamara.
As a journalist, Zakin has written about the environment, art, and politics for national magazines. Her columns have been syndicated to newspapers across the country. She earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and an MFA in fiction from The University of Arizona, and has taught creative writing and journalism at universities in the U.S. and Africa. Her books include the anthology Naked: Writers Uncover the Way We Live on Earth and In Katrina's Wake: Portraits of Loss from an Unnatural Disaster.
She is married to a professional soccer player from Kenya and has two stepchildren.