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Bondurant was born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia near Washington, DC. His family's ancestral home was in Franklin County, Virginia, and he grew up hearing accounts of his parents' families and relatives.
He graduated from James Madison University, where he was a member of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. Bondurant was a Walter E. Dakin Fellow at the Sewanee Writers' Conference and a Kingsbury Fellow at Florida State University.
Bondurant currently teaches at the University of Mississippi.
- The Third Translation (2005)
- The Wettest County in the World (2008)
- The Night Swimmer (2012)
In 2009, director John Hillcoat was developing a film of the same name based on Bondurant's novel, with a script by Nick Cave, and starring Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain. The project was shut down in January 2010 due to financing problems.  
An independent studio called Annapurna Pictures (based in Los Angeles) revived the project later that year and began filming in late February 2011. Starring Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, Mia Wasikowska, and Jessica Chastain.  In March 2012, the title was changed to Lawless.  The film was released in the U.S. in late August 2012.
Bondurant was inspired by family stories to make Franklin County the setting of his Prohibition-era historical novel, The Wettest County in the World (2008). His grandfather, Jack Bondurant, and two granduncles ran a massive moonshining operation in the mountains of southwest Virginia.  Reviewing the novel for Entertainment Weekly, Jennifer Reese said it was "somber, engrossing", and that Bondurant was "wonderful at evoking historical atmosphere," including "drunken gatherings that explode into shattering violence."  She thought the pace slow in parts.
- Alex Billington, "John Hillcoat's The Promised Land Adaptation Gets Shut Down", The Telegraph, 4 January 2010, at First Showing.net, accessed 17 May 2013
- "Director John Hillcoat won't reach the promised land", Collider, 4 January 2010
- Kit, Borys (February 9, 2011). "Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman Join 'Wettest County in the World' (Berlin Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 9, 2011.
- Jagernauth, Kevin (March 22, 2012). "Sorry Terrence Malick, The Weinstein Company Has Changed 'The Wettest County' To 'Lawless'". indieWire.
- Dang, Paul (February 15, 2011). "Prof novel enters Hollywood". utdmercury.com. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
- Jennifer Reese (22 October 2008). "Book Review: The Wettest County in the World, by Matt Bondurant". Entertainment Weekly.