Philipp Meyer grew up in a working class neighborhood in Baltimore. The neighborhood, Hampden, had been hit hard by the collapse of various heavy industries, and crime and unemployment were high. Meyer attended city public schools until dropping out at age 16 and getting a GED. He spent the rest of his teenage years working as a bicycle mechanic.
At age 20, he began taking classes at a various community and local colleges and decided to become a writer. He also decided to leave his hometown, and at 22, on his third attempt, he was admitted to Cornell University. He graduated with a degree in English and headed for Wall Street to pay off his student loans.
After getting a job with the Swiss investment bank UBS, Meyer did training in London and Zurich and was assigned to a derivatives trading desk. After several years at UBS, he’d paid off most of his student loans and decided to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. He wrote several apprentice novels, none of which were publishable. When his savings ran out he took jobs as an emergency medical technician and construction worker. Eventually he was admitted to the MFA program at the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, TX. While attending graduate school he continued to do emergency medical work, driving to New Orleans just as Hurricane Katrina hit and working as an EMT during that storm.
Meyer's first novel, American Rust, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was named to numerous Best Book of the Year Lists. Meyer was also awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Dobie Paisano Fellowship, and named one of the New Yorker's 20 best writers under 40.
Meyer spent five years writing and intensely researching his second novel, The Son, taking a kind of "method acting" approach in which he learned all the skills (hunting, tracking, primitive survival) the characters use in the book. He also read approximately three hundred fifty works of nonfiction and conducted hundreds of interviews. The Son was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Literature and won the Western Heritage book award and the Writers League of Texas book award. It also won the Prix Littérature-Monde and the Lucien Barrière prize in France. It has so far been translated into over twenty languages and has been on the bestseller list in eight countries.
After finishing the novel, Meyer spent nearly five years developing The Son as a television show. The series will debut on AMC in spring 2017, with Meyer as Creator and Executive Producer. Meyer either wrote or rewrote all the scripts and also served as the show's technical advisor, consulting daily with the directors, costume designer, prop master, location scouts, and set designers. He trained the show's actors in everything from traditional Comanche archery to firearms use to frontier tracking and combat techniques.
Philipp Meyer lives in Austin, TX.