“Ricci belongs on the shelf reserved for writers such as Chatwin, Ondaatje and Flannery O’Connor.”
— TIMOTHY FINDLEY
Nino Ricci’s first novel was the internationally acclaimed Lives of the Saints. It spent 75 weeks on the Globe and Mail‘s bestseller list and was the winner of the F.G. Bressani Prize, the Books in Canada First Novel Award, and the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. In England it won Betty Trask Award and Winifred Holtby Prize, in the U.S. was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, and in France was an Oiel de la lettre Selection of the National Libraries Association.
Published in seventeen countries, Lives of the Saints was the first volume of a trilogy that continued with In a Glass House, hailed as a “genuine achievement” by The New York Times, and Where She Has Gone, nominated for the Giller Prize. The Lives of the Saints trilogy was adapted for a television miniseries starring Sophia Loren and Kris Kristofferson.
Books in Canada commented that Ricci’s trilogy “so amply demonstrates the author’s tremendous talents that we would be foolish as readers not to follow him down whatever road he next chooses to follow.” That road led him to Testament, a fictional retelling of the life of Jesus. Hailed as a “masterpiece” by Saturday Night, Testament was a Booklist Choice for the Top Ten Historical Novels of the Year and a Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year. It was shortlisted for a Commonwealth Prize and for the Roger’s Writers’ Trust Award for Fiction and was a winner of the Trillium Award.
Ricci’s most recent novel is the national bestseller The Origin of Species, which earned him the Canadian Authors Association Fiction Award as well as his second Governor General’s Award for Fiction. Set in Montreal in 1980s, the novel casts a Darwinian eye on the life of Alex Fratarcangeli, who is torn between his baser impulses and his pursuit of the Good. “This novel does so well, on so many levels,” wrote the Toronto Star, “that it’s hard to know where to begin tallying up the riches.”
Ricci is also the author of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, a short biography that forms part of Penguin’s Extraordinary Canadians series, edited by John Ralston Saul. Ricci’s biography, according to HistoryWire, “provides the best, and best written, perspective on Trudeau there is.”
Nino Ricci was born in Leamington, Ontario, to parents from the Molise region of Italy, and completed university studies in Toronto, Montreal, and Florence, Italy. He has served as a writer-in-residence for the Toronto and Kitchener public library systems and for the University of Windsor, and has held the Mariano Elia Chair at York University, the Chair in Religion and the Arts at Assumption University, the G. M. Hopkins Chair in Literary Studies at John Carroll University in Cleveland, and the Killam Visting Professorship in Canadian Studies at Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. He is also a past president of the Canadian Centre of International PEN, a writers’ human rights organization that works for freedom of expression. In 2006 he was the inaugural winner of the Alistair MacLeod Award for Literary Achievement, and in 2010 he was the recipient of York University’s Pinnacle Achievement Award.
Nino Ricci lives in Toronto with his wife, writer Erika de Vasconcelos, and their children.
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