Karen Piper is the author of A Girls Guide to Missiles (Viking Penguin, 2018), a memoir about growing up at the nation’s largest weapons development center, where her mom and dad built missiles in California’s Mojave Desert. Her book has been described as “reaching back into the body of American war and retrieving the heart of a girl, still beating, not beaten.” Piper has also written about climate change and water issues in two previous books, The Price of Thirst (University of Minnesota, 2014) and Left in the Dust (Palgrave, 2006). The Price of Thirst: Water Scarcity and the Coming Chaos, has been called "a piece of tack-sharp reportage" by Kirkus Reviews. Finally, her first book Cartographic Fictions: Maps, Race, and Identity (Palgrave Macmillan 2006), looks at the evolution of mapping technology in the British colonies and U.S. Her research on water issues has taken her to Iraq, Chile, Egypt, Turkey, India, and elsewhere, supported by the National Endowment of the Humanities, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Missouri Research Council. She has appeared on Terry Gross's "Fresh Air," a Statfor podcast, and C-SPAN's Book TV, among other places. She has published in Time magazine, Places, and Sierra Magazine, and been interviewed by the New York Times and CNN.
With a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and M.A. in Environmental Studies, her research and writing interests have always been eclectic and interdisciplinary. She has received numerous awards and fellowships for her work, including the Sierra Nature Writing Award, an Oprah Magazine’s “O List” of favorite books, a Southwest Book of the Year, a Junior Library Guild "Gold Standard" Award, a Huntington Research Fellowship, Carnegie Mellon Visiting Professorship, the Sitka Writing Residency, and the National Endowment for the Humanities grant.
Karen is also an adjunct professor in the Geography Department. She teaches climate change fiction, ecocriticism, postcolonial literature, writing, and a course on women and war.
PhD 1996, University of Oregon
- Karen Piper. The Price of Thirst: Global Water Inequality and the Coming Chaos. (University of Minnesota Press, 2014)
- Karen Piper. Left in the Dust: How Race and Politics Created a Human and Environmental Tragedy in L.A. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)
- Karen Piper. Cartographic Fictions: Maps, Race, and Identity (Rutgers University Press, 2001)