Kelman was born to an American father and British mother and was raised in both nations. Kelman attended The Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he received a Bachelor of Science in Brain and Cognitive Science and Minored in Film and Media Studies. He then attended Brown University where he received a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing - Fiction.
Kelman's first novel, girls, was a San Francisco Chronicle and New York Journal News Best Book of the Year when it was published in hardcover by Little, Brown and Company in 2003. It was released in paperback in 2005 and has since been translated into more than a dozen languages. A bestseller in several European countries, it was particularly successful in Italy where it was published by Fazi Editore.
Kelman's second book, Video Game Art, was published worldwide in French and English by Assouline in 2006. It claims to be the first book of Art History on the topic and has introduction written by Kelman's former MIT Professor, Dr. Henry Jenkins.
Kelman's third book, the novel Behaviour of the Light: A Speculum, was published by Fazi Editore in 2008.