Giridharadas was raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio, in Paris and in Maryland, by his father and mother, Radhashyam and Nandini Giridharadas (née, Lall), while childhood visits to extended family members in India sparked an interest in that country that influenced his later writing. He studied politics and history at the University of Michigan and Oxford.
After graduating from college, he moved to Mumbai in 2003, where he worked as a consultant for the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. In 2005, he became a journalist, covering India for the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. In 2009, after returning to the United States, he began to write the "Currents" column for those newspapers. He also writes longer magazine pieces.
As of 2010, Giridharadas was a doctoral candidate at Harvard University. He is a Henry Crown fellow of the Aspen Institute, and is an MSNBC commentator.
He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Priya Parker.
In 2011, Giridharadas published his first book, India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation's Remaking. In the book, he discusses the increasing opportunities provided by the Indian economy. He also delves into class issues, and has said that "in India, you're eternally a master and eternally a servant."
In The Plain Dealer, Jo Gibson characterizes the work as a "readable, intriguing book" and calls Giridharadas "a marvelous journalist – intrepid, easy to like, curious." In a review for The New York Times, Gaiutra Bahadur writes that "'India Calling' has what Hanif Kureishi once described as 'the sex of a syllogism.' Full-figured ideas animate every turn. So, simultaneously, does Giridharadas’s eye for contradiction. The combination both pleases us and makes us wary — distrustful of shapely ideas, including the author’s own."
In 2014, W. W. Norton and Company published his book The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas. The book centers on executed murderer Mark Stroman and a survivor of one of his shootings, Rais Bhuiyan. The work explores Bhuiyan's forgiveness of Stroman and his campaign to save the death row inmate from capital punishment. At the time of the shootings, Stroman had thought that he was exacting revenge for the September 11, 2001 attacks, but his victims were immigrants from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Eboo Patel reviewed the book for The Washington Post. Patel wrote that the book "zooms out and illuminates the broader social context of the lives at the center." However, he noted that "while plumbing the depths of Bhuiyan’s Muslim heart, (Giridharadas) misses a wide-open opportunity to get to the heart of Islam." In The Wall Street Journal, Stephen Harrigan wrote that Giridharadas is "an enterprising and clear-eyed reporter and a generally smooth writer, though every 20 pages or so there appears a glistening chunk of linguistic gristle... But occasional maladroit phrases do no serious harm to his commanding narrative."