Zoshchenko was born in 1895, in Poltava, but spent most of his life in St. Petersburg / Leningrad. His Ukrainian father was a mosaicist responsible for the exterior decoration of the Suvorov Museum in Saint Petersburg. The future writer attended the Faculty of Law at the Saint Petersburg University, but did not graduate due to financial problems. During World War I Zoshchenko served in the army as a field officer, was wounded in action several times, and was heavily decorated. He was associated with the Serapion Brothers and attained particular popularity in the 1920s, but, after his denunciation in the Zhdanov decree of 1946, Zoshchenko lived in dire poverty. He was awarded his pension only a few months before he died.
Zoshchenko developed a simplified deadpan style of writing which simultaneously made him accessible to "the people" and mocked official demands for accessibility: "I write very compactly. My sentences are short. Accessible to the poor. Maybe that's the reason why I have so many readers." Volkov compares this style to the nakedness of the Russian holy fool or yurodivy.
Zoshchenko wrote a series of children’s short stories about Lenin.