Frank Chin was born in Berkeley, California, He attended college at the University of California, Berkeley. He received an American Book Award in 1989 for a collection of short stories, The Chinaman Pacific and Frisco R.R. Co., and another in 2000 for Lifetime Achievement. He currently resides in Los Angeles.
Chin is considered to be one of the pioneers in Asian American theatre. He founded the Asian American Theatre Workshop, which became the Asian American Theater Company in 1973. He first gained notoriety as a playwright in the 1970s. His play The Chickencoop Chinaman was the first by an Asian American to be produced on a major New York stage. Stereotypes of Asian Americans, and traditional Chinese folklore are common themes in much of his work.
In addition to his work as an author and playwright, Frank Chin has also worked extensively with Japanese American resisters of the draft in WWII. His novel, Born in the U.S.A., is dedicated to this subject.
Chin is also a musician. In the mid-1960s, he taught Robbie Krieger, a member of The Doors how to play the Flamenco guitar.