Karen Gillece est née en 1974 à Dublin. Elle a fait des études de droit à la University College Dublin. Son premier roman, Seven Nights In Zaragoza (litt. : « Sept nuits à Saragosse ») a été publié en 2005 et salué par les critiques comme étant très prometteur. Ce premier roman fut suivi de Longshore Drift, qui a été décrit par les critiques comme étant "une lecture glorieuse confirmant la compétence de Gillece en tant qu'écrivaine littéraire" (Books Ireland).
Deux romans ont ensuite été publiés et acclamés par les critiques : My Glass Heart (2007) et The Absent Wife (2008). Karen Gillece est décrite comme l'une des meilleures écrivaines émergentes d’Irlande. Ses histoires courtes ont été publiées dans des journaux littéraires et des magazines et sont passées dans des émissions à la radio (RTE Radio One et BBC Radio Four).
En 2001 elle a été sélectionnée pour le prix Hennessy New Irish Writing. Ses romans ont été traduits dans plusieurs langues européennes. Le Conseil des Arts d'Irlande lui a octroyé une bourse de littérature et elle travaille actuellement à la rédaction de son cinquième roman.
The drive home was subdued. Jim slept in the the backseat and Sorcha gazed out the window at the darkness. His own head was heavy with wine, and he drove slowly, cautiously, the headlights swinging out over the narrow, twisting roads. Sorcha’s hand moved and came to rest on his thigh, stroking softly. This was a signal that she would want him to make love to her when they got home. He felt a sinking feeling in his chest. His mind wandered back through a series of Friday nights, hunched up on his forearms, moving over his wife’s body, his face turned sideways away from hers into the pillow, and as she held onto his shoulders, he moved into her, giving his mind over to fantasy. Lately he’d been bothered by a nagging doubt that this act was something they were both enduring rather than enjoying.
Driving past the old barracks, taking the road across the bridge and up the embankment, the word she had spoken earlier came back to him – ‘broken’ – and he was surprised by the sudden stab of pain it caused him. It wasn’t a word he had ever imagined associating with Lara. Even that last time he saw her, when she looked at him, her eyes brimming over with pain and resentment and disbelief, there was still something so defiant about her, so wilful and strong. He felt a bristling of nerves along his neck and shoulders as he remembered that look. But perhaps that’s just what he wanted to see, to lessen his own guilt.
Almost sixteen years had passed, but the details of that day were still vivid in his memory – the cloying smell of baking that clung inside the house, the heat in that room, the hiss and spit of turf in the grate, all those relatives packed into that tight space, the kisses on the cheeks, his hand gripped by many, their congratulations ringing in the hollows of his ears. He hadn’t wanted ay of it – had strenuously objected to it. But at that point, he was starting to discover that what he wanted didn’t count for much any more. There seemed to be a fluttering of skirts, all those women flapping around with cups of tea and plates of food, their voices shrill and high pitched, while the men sat around sullenly, eating sandwiches and drinking whiskey and passing low remarks. And Sorcha sitting in the middle of it all, face flushed with excitement, looking pleased and – did he imagine it – triumphant? His lungs had seemed to fill with heat, his collar constricting his throat, and suddenly he knew that he had to get out.