On Saturday the National Post inaugurated the first in its series of articles describing the development of Nino Ricci’s new novel, The Origin of Species, which hits store shelves tomorrow. In the opening of the article, Ricci talks about finding the inspiration for the character of Esther, a young woman suffering from multiple sclerosis, in a university classmate of his who was “his first fan.” A second impetus for the novel came from farther afield:
Another key inspiration came in 2002, when Ricci visited the Galapagos Islands. Packed away in his luggage was a copy of The Voyage of the Beagle he’d had since his under-grad days at York University, where he’d first been captivated by Charles Darwin and his ideas. “I kept thinking, I gotta figure out a way to do something with this man,” he says. “I knew there was something in his thinking that coincided with a strain in my thinking.”
Future articles in the series will feature commentary from Ricci himself, his editor, publicist, and friends. The Post will follow the book as it grows legs, sheds its tail, and takes its first hesitant steps upright on land. The first real test of its evolutionary mettle comes next Monday, when the longlist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, which includes Ricci’s novel, gets whittled down to five finalists. Survival of the fittest, indeed.