Philipp Meyer grew up in a working class neighborhood in Baltimore, where he dropped out of high school and got a GED. After five years working as a bike mechanic and an orderly in a trauma center, he decided to attend college, attending various local universities before being admitted into Cornell University. He graduated with a degree in English and headed to Wall Street as a derivatives trader. After paying off his student loans, Meyer left Wall Street hoping write full time, but after years of failure and two unpublished apprentice novels, he moved back into his parent’s basement in Baltimore, taking jobs as an EMT and construction worker. Eventually he received a fellowship from the University of Texas's Michener Center for Writers, and moved to Austin, Texas.

In 2009, Meyer published American Rust, which won a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, was an Economist Book of the Year, a New York Times Notable Book, and a Washington Post Book of the Year. Meyer was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Dobie Paisano Fellowship, and named as one of the New Yorker magazine’s twenty best writers under forty.

Meyer’s second novel, The Son, was a bestseller in eight countries. It was runner up for the Pulitzer Prize and won the National Cowboy Museum's Western Heritage award. In France, The Son won the Prix Littérature-Monde as well as the Lucien Barrière Prize, and Meyer was named to France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

After the publication of The Son, Meyer decided to try his hand at Hollywood, adapting The Son into a show for AMC, starring Pierce Brosnan. After the first season premiered in spring 2017, Meyer decided to leave television to return to writing novels. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he is currently working on his third book.