Steinhauer was born in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, and grew up in Virginia. He attended university at Lock Haven, Pennsylvania and the University of Texas, Austin. He received an MFA in Creative Writing at Emerson College in Boston.
After graduation, Steinhauer received a yearlong Fulbright grant to write a novel in Romania, about their 1989 revolution. It was called Tzara's Monocle, and when he moved to New York City afterward, he used that manuscript to secure a literary agent. However, it was with another book, the historical mystery set in Eastern Europe, The Bridge of Sighs, that Steinhauer first found publication.
His 2009 CIA novel, The Tourist, received positive reviews and is being developed for a film by George Clooney. A 2010 follow-up, The Nearest Exit has also been positively reviewed.
Since 2003, he has lived in Budapest, Hungary, in the Winter of 2009/10, Steinhauer is the Picador Guest Professor for Literature at the University of Leipzig's Institute for American Studies in Leipzig, Germany.
He has two siblings, a brother Ian, and a sister, Katrina.
The Bridge of Sighs was the first in a five-book series of thrillers chronicling the evolution of a fictional Eastern European country during the Cold War, with one book for each decade. Each book also focuses on a different main character.
The Bridge of Sighs (2003)--Emil Brod, 1948 (nominated for five awards)
The Confession (2004)--Ferenc Kolyeszar, 1956
36 Yalta Boulevard (2005)--Brano Sev, 1966-7
Liberation Movements (2006)--Brano Sev, Katja Drdova, Gavra Noukas, 1968 & 1975 (nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel)
Victory Square (2007)--The final book in the series, dealing with 1989, the end of communism, and the return to the main character of the first book, Emil Brod.
The Tourist (2009)--The first in a projected trilogy of espionage novels focused on a central character, Milo Weaver. Reached #19 on the New York Times Best Seller List.
The Nearest Exit (2010)--The second Milo Weaver novel.