Karen Olsson

Karen Olsson is the author of the novels Waterloo and All the Houses and the nonfiction work The Weil Conjectures. She first contributed to Texas Monthly in 2000, as a freelance writer, and has also written for the New York Times Magazine, the Nation, and Bookforum, among other publications. A former editor of the Texas Observer, she graduated from Harvard University with a degree in mathematics and lives in Austin with her family.

22 Articles

January 20, 2013

Before and After

For some residents of Mount Pleasant, the April 16 immigration raid on the local chicken plant was no more than a segment on the evening news. For others, including many legal residents of the tiny East Texas town, it was the moment everything changed.

The Culture|
August 31, 2009

Why Are Tortilla Chips So Damn Good?

Is it the crispiness? The crunchiness? The saltiness? Thankfully, a small cadre of researchers in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Texas A&M has spent much of the past thirty years munching on this question.

The Culture|
July 31, 2009

Jim Adler, Personal-Injury Lawyer

Adler, who grew up in Dallas, has been a personal-injury lawyer for 36 years. He is the founder of the Houston law firm Jim S. Adler & Associates and appears in television ads in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.I started out doing law enforcement work for the Texas State Securities

May 31, 2009

Presidential Detail

Location: College Station and AustinWhat You’ll Need: Pork rinds, FrescaFirst, a caveat: The exhibits at presidential libraries are to history what the White House press office is to daily news. They burnish rather than analyze their subjects. But what the museum portion of a presidential library lacks

Web Exclusive|
March 1, 2009

Scenes From a Mall

It was a gorgeous day at the outlet mall. The sun shone brightly on the Tuscanish facades, on parking lots that an optimist would have called half full, on the strip of patio and water feature called Gondola Park (though its narrow pool was devoid of gondolas), and the pretzel

March 31, 2008

The Final Frontier

Karl Gebhardt and Gary Hill, two astronomers from the University of Texas at Austin, are racing to solve one of the greatest mysteries in science: What is dark energy? How does it work? Can it explain the origins of the universe? There’s only one problem. Dark energy may not actually

News & Politics|
October 31, 2007

Keep Out!

Which is worse: looking the other way as millions of illegals stream across the border or building an unconscionably expensive and impractical fence that few in the Valley (a) want or (b) believe will make a difference?

December 1, 2006

Eating A Dead Horse

Even if you’ve never dined on the delicious remains of a noble steed, you probably have an opinion on whether the state’s two slaughterhouses should remain open. Boone Pickens does. And Charlie Stenholm. And Bo Derek. Not to mention the many traders and “killer buyers” for whom business is business.

Karen Olsson|
July 31, 2006

The Old College Try

The mayor of El Cenizo is 23, is still in school, and lives with his mother. But he’s serious about making life better in his impoverished border hometown.

September 30, 2005

Keep Waterloo Weird

In this excerpt from Karen Olsson’s forthcoming novel set in a fictional state capital (wink, wink), a reporter for a weekly newspaper watches a rural conservative who “shares your values” announce his candidacy for governor.

Karen Olsson|
September 30, 2004

Party Crashers

If we had more than two big-time candidates, maybe we could have a genuine presidential race in every state. Even Texas.

July 31, 2003

About a Girl

Audra Thomas can't read these words and, in a few months, wouldn't remember them anyway. Nevertheless, she has an extraodinary sense of the world around her—and of herself.

Politics & Policy|
November 1, 2002

Mr. Right

The line on James Leininger is fairly simple: He's a doctrinaire conservative who spends millions supporting candidates and causes he likes—and opposing those he doesn't. That makes him one of the most influential players in Texas politics in the post-Bush era.

May 31, 2000

The Evolutionary

What do you do when you win a $295,000 MacArthur “genius” grant? If you’re biologist David Hillis, you keep teaching at the University of Texas as if nothing happened, and you keep chasing frogs.

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