She is the author of six novels, numerous short stories, and essays on the craft of writing fiction. Livesey came to North America during the 1970s where she worked to get her fiction published, reportedly because her boyfriend at the time was also a writer Livesey"s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and a number of literary quarterlies.
She is also the Fiction Editor at Ploughshares, a renowned literary journal.
Livesey served as a judge for the Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists and Novelists association/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction in 2012. She currently lives in the Boston area and is the writer-in-residence at Emerson College.
She had formally served as a professor at Boston University, Bowdoin College, Tufts University, Carnegie Mellon University, Brandeis University, Cleveland State University, Williams College, and at the University of California, Irvine.