Skip to content

By Nino Ricci

“Exhilarating…Ricci’s stylistic range is impressive, spanning the parodic to the tragic. Most memorable among the novel’s virtuoso set pieces are a stunning heart-of-darkness episode in the Galapagos and a conjunction of storytelling and evolutionary survival involving the courtship ritual of the masked booby. Deconstruction is relatively easy, Ricci’s book tells us; what is heroic is our struggle to construct, to change and evolve, to be loving and compassionate, and to tell each other stories of hope.”
Quill & Quire

“Nino Ricci’s The Origin of Species is an achingly honest look at how our life choices get stacked up to form the picture of who we are whether we like it or not. Ricci’s dry, sardonic prose is sharp, with the cadence of natural thought that tumbles forward without getting lost.”
-Boston Globe


Ricci_The Origin of Species

Nino Ricci’s last novel, Testament, was a best-selling secular re-telling of the life of Christ; its reconfiguration of what many consider the gospel truth sparked a controversy within the Christian community. In Ricci’s new novel, The Origin of Species, he explores a belief system of similar magnitude and currency–Darwin’s theory of evolution. Nowadays, it is easy to lose sight of the monumental effect the publication of Darwin’s The Origin of Species had, not only on science, but on society at large. Nino Ricci’s stunning new novel explores its continued resonance. Set in Montreal during the 1980s, a decade fraught with the continuing clashes between French and English Canadians and the ensuing crises of identity, the novel tells the story of Alex, a thirty-something man plagued by a familiar sense of being a fraud in all aspects of life. He is by all accounts unexceptional, save for the fact that he is haunted by an extraordinary experience in the Galapagos Islands, the consequences of which threaten to upend the precarious balance of his ordinary life.

Nino Ricci is one of the wittiest writers in Canada, as well as one of the most profound interpreters of the human heart. The scenes on the Galapagos Islands are breathtaking, and the book’s last twenty pages constitutes one of the most emotionally intense conclusions to any novel in recent memory.

“[Nino Ricci] is blessed with the rare ability to recreate a world entire and make us believe in it.”
The Globe and Mail

“A writer of impeccable craft.”
-Pico Iyer, Los Angeles Times Book Review

“a writer as gifted as Ricci can tackle almost any subject and succeed with it.”
Kirkus Reviews

“I loved this book. It’s a wonderful novel, unpredictable and hugely entertaining, full of big ideas and great, great, unforgettable characters.”
-Roddy Doyle

“Canadian writer Ricci’s fifth novel, winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, is a masterly coming-of-age story… Highly recommended, especially for fans of fellow Canadian writer Alice Munro, with whom Ricci shares a knack for irony and a talent for characterization.”
Library Journal

“[A]funny and poignant book that explores humanity during a decade of chaos.”
Boston Globe 

“In this winner of the Governor-General’s Award for fiction, Alex, a young Italian Canadian in 1980s Montreal, achingly needs to write, to talk, to make order of his life and of the clutter of information he has accumulated. He also wants a girlfriend. Because Ricci is a skilled, language-loving writer, Alex’s life as a skilled, language-loving writer is a rich journey.”
-Globe 100 Best Books

“Ricci’s prose is simple, yet somehow always unexpected. Each sentence, each word, feels exactly right, landing in our inner ear just so. The dire intelligence of the work is perhaps driven home most exquisitely by the fact that, on top of all the thought-inducing social, religious and political critiques, it is also bitterly, achingly funny… Ricci does more than survive. He triumphs utterly here in rare achievement.”
Toronto Star

Toronto Star Interview

Ottawa Citizen Interview


Doubleday Canada, September 2008

Other Press, US, Spring 2010

The Post Publishing Public Company, Thailand


Winner of the 2008 Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction

Winner of the CAA / MOSAID Technologies, Inc. Award for Fiction

National Bestseller

Longlisted for the Giller Prize

Globe 100 Best Book, 2008

National Post Top 10 Book, 2008

Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2009

Finalist for the 2009 Trillium Book Award

Top Shelf – recommended reading from the San Francisco Chronicle

Other Books by Nino Ricci