Karan grew up in New Delhi, India and moved to the US for college. His first novel, “Family Planning” (2008), was a finalist for the International Dylan Thomas Prize. It was published in nine countries. His second novel, “The Association of Small Bombs” (2016), was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Awards and was named one of the "10 Best Books of 2016" by The New York Times.

Karan's writing has appeared in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker Online, The New Republic and other venues.

An assistant professor at Brown University, he is currently a fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. He is also the recipient of the 2019 Jeannette Haien Ballard Writer's Prize, "awarded annually to young writers of proven excellence in poetry or prose."