Githa Hariharan was born in 1954 in Coimbatore, India, and she grew up in Bombay and Manila. She was educated in these two cities and in the United States. She worked as a staff writer in WNET-Channel 13 in New York, and from 1979, she worked in Bombay, Madras and New Delhi as an editor, first in a publishing house, then as a freelancer.
In 1995, Hariharan challenged the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act as discriminatory against women. The case, Githa Hariharan and Another vs. Reserve Bank of India and Another, led to a Supreme Court judgment in 1999 on guardianship.
Githa Hariharan's published work includes novels, short stories, essays, newspaper articles and columns.
Her first novel, The Thousand Faces of Night (1992) won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 1993. Her other novels include The Ghosts of Vasu Master (1994), When Dreams Travel (1999), In Times of Siege (2003), and Fugitive Histories (2009).
A collection of highly acclaimed short stories, The Art of Dying, was published in 1993, and a book of stories for children, The Winning Team, in 2004.
Githa Hariharan has also edited a volume of stories in English translation from four major South Indian languages, A Southern Harvest (1993); and co-edited a collection of stories for children, Sorry, Best Friend! (1997).
Hariharan's fiction has been translated into a number of languages including French, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, Greek, Urdu and Vietnamese; her essays and fiction have also been included in anthologies such as Salman Rushdie's Mirrorwork: 50 Years of Indian Writing 1947-1997. Hariharan wrote, for several years, a regular column for the major Indian newspaper The Telegraph.
Githa Hariharan has been Visiting Professor or Writer-in-Residence in several universities, including Dartmouth College and George Washington University in the United States, the University of Canterbury at Kent in the UK, and Jamia Millia Islamia in India, where she was Scholar-in-Residence from 2010-2012.