James Lee Burke was born in Houston, Texas, in 1936 and grew up on the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast. He attended Southwestern Louisiana Institute and later received a B.A. Degree in English, and an M.A. from the University of Missouri in 1958, and 1960 respectively. Over the years he worked as a Landman for Sinclair Oil Company, Pipeliner, Land Surveyor, Newspaper Reporter, College English Professor, Social Worker on Skid Row in Los Angeles, Clerk for the Louisiana Employment Service, and Instructor in the U.S. Job Corps.
He and his Wife, Pearl, met in Graduate School and have been together since 1958, and been married since 1960. They have four children: Jim Jr., an Assistant U.S. Attorney; Andree, a School Psychologist; Pamala, A Television Ad Producer; and Alafair, a Law Professor and Novelist, who has four novels out with Henry Holt Publishing.
Burke’s novels have won The Edgar Award twice, for Best Crime Novel of the Year. He has also been a recipient of a Breadloaf and Guggenheim Fellowship and an NEA grant. Two of his novels, “Heaven’s Prisoners” and “Two For Texas”, have been made into major motion pictures. His short stories have been published in The Atlantic Monthly, New Stories from the South, Best American Short Stories, Antioch Review, Southern Review, and The Kenyon Review. His novel, “The Lost Get-Back Boogie” was rejected 111 times over a period of nine years, and upon publication by Louisiana State University Press, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Today, He and his Wife live in Missoula, Montana, and New Iberia, Louisiana.