Stephen Kelman was raised on the Marsh Farm council estate, an impoverished social housing project in Bedfordshire, England. Kelman developed an interest in writing as a child and began writing seriously in 2005. After earning a degree in marketing at the University of Bedfordshire, Kelman worked a series of odd jobs, from a warehouse operative to a caseworker.
Kelman's debut novel, Pigeon English, was inspired by ten-year-old Damiola Taylor's murder in London. The novel was shortlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize and the Desmond Elliot Prize, and Kelman earned the Guardian's 2011 "writer of the year" and first book awards.
Kelman's most recent novel, Man on Fire, is a fictional biography of Indian journalist Bibhuti Bhushan Nayak. Currently, Kelman lives in St. Albans in Hertfordshire, England, with his wife Uzma, where he teaches martial arts to disadvantaged children.