Kari Hotakainen is a Finnish writer. Hotakainen started his writing career as a reporter in Pori. In 1986, he moved to Helsinki. He became a full-time writer in 1996. He has two children with his wife, sound technician Tarja Laaksonen, whom he married in 1983. He has also worked as a copywriter and as a columnist for the Helsingin Sanomat.
His father, Keijo Hotakainen, worked as a storekeeper and photographer while his mother, Meeri Ala-Kuusisto, worked as a sales clerk. Kari Hotakainen passed his matriculation examination in 1976 and graduated from Rautalampi High School the same year. He has a Bachelor of Arts.

Hotakainen kicked off his career as an author in the beginning of the 1980s by writing poetry. His debut collection Harmittavat takaiskut (Unfortunate setbacks) was published in 1982. From poetry, Hotakainen moved on to writing books for children and young adults and then on to writing novels for adults. Before he started writing full time, Hotakainen worked as a news reporter, in the advertising department of WSOY, etc. Hotakainen’s breakthrough came when he was nominated for the 1997 Finlandia Prize, for his semi-autobiographical work entitled Klassikko (The Classic). In 2002, Hotakainen received the Finlandia Prize for his book entitled Juoksuhaudantie (Battle Trench Avenue) published the same year. Later on, the book was turned into a movie with the same name. In 2004, Hotakainen received the Nordic Council's Literature Prize for the same book. In 2006, he received the Nordic Drama Award for his play Punahukka.

Hotakainen has also written children's plays, radio dramas, newspaper columns and the scripts for a 10-part TV series entitled Tummien vesien tulkit.