Mary Doria Russell
|Mary Doria Russell|
Russell at the annual conference of the American Library Association, January 2008
August 19, 1950|
Elmhurst, Illinois, US
|Alma mater||University of Michigan|
|Genre||Science fiction, historical fiction|
|Notable works||The Sparrow, Children of God|
|Notable awards||James Tiptree, Jr. Award, BSFA Award, Arthur C. Clarke Award, John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, Kurd Lasswitz Preis|
Early life and education
Russell was born in Elmhurst, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Her parents were both in the military, her father a Marine Corps drill instructor and her mother a Navy nurse. She was raised as a Catholic but left the church at age fifteen, and her struggles to figure out how much of that culture to pass on to her children fueled the prominence of religion in her work. She graduated from Glenbard East High School and later she earned a Ph.D. in biological anthropology at the University of Michigan.
Russell's first two novels, The Sparrow and its sequel Children of God—sometimes called the Sparrow series or Emilo Sandoz sequence—were published by Random House Villard in 1996 and 1998. They feature first contact with aliens. Both explore the problem of evil, how to reconcile the idea of a benevolent deity with a factual universe filled with pain and evil (Theodicy). The Sparrow won the Arthur C. Clarke, BSFA, and Tiptree annual science fiction book awards (below), and it was the basis for Russell winning the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1998. For the Science Fiction Encyclopedia, chief editor John Clute calls Russell an "author who established a strong reputation for cognitive subtlety and narrative power in her brief [science fiction] career; after the Emilio Sandoz sequence ... she turned her interest to other fields. ... Because of the quality of its writing, and the seriousness of its examination of various issues, some critics claimed that The Sparrow could not therefore be [science fiction]. Russell herself seems not to have encouraged the claim."
Russell's historical novel A Thread of Grace (2005) is set in Northern Italy during World War II, and features both the Italian resistance and the plight of Jewish refugees escaping Nazi persecution throughout Europe. Much of story is based on accounts by survivors from the period, when many Italian citizens allowed Jews seek safe harbor in their farmlands, cities, and ports. (Russell herself is of Italian heritage and is a convert to Judaism.)
Her fifth novel, Doc (2011), is a Western and murder mystery. It is set in Dodge City during 1878, when the friendship between Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday began, four years before the shootout at the OK Corral.
In April 2015, renowned physicist Freeman Dyson told the New York Times Sunday Book Review that Mary Doria Russell was one of the three writers he would invite to a literary dinner party, along with Joan Breton Connelly and Kristen R. Ghodsee.
- The Sparrow (Random House Villard, 1996)
- Children of God (Villard, 1998)
- A Thread of Grace: a novel (Random House, 2005), OCLC 55657999
- Dreamers of the Day: a novel (RH, 2008), OCLC 144769917
- Doc (RH, 2011), a novel about Doc Holliday
- Epitaph (Ecco, 2015)
- James Tiptree, Jr. Award, 1997, The Sparrow
- British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Best Novel Award, 1998, The Sparrow (UK edition: Transworld Publishers Black Swan, 1997)
- Arthur C. Clarke Award, 1998, The Sparrow
- John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, 1998, citing The Sparrow
- Cleveland Arts Council Prize for Literature
- American Library Association Readers Choice Award
- Gaylactic Spectrum Hall of Fame Award, 2001, The Sparrow and Children of God
- Kurd Lasswitz Preis (Germany), best foreign novel, 2001, The Sparrow
- Hugo Award
- Book of the Month Club Best First Fiction Prize
- Giordano Bruno, the Italian philosopher for whom the interstellar ship in Children of God is named
- "Russell, Mary Doria". Revised June 4, 2014. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (sf-encyclopedia.com). Retrieved 2014-07-30. Entry by 'JC', John Clute.
- "Mary Doria Russell – Summary Bibliography". Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved 2014-07-30. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
- "A Talk with Mary Doria Russell". BookBrowse. Doubleday Broadway. Retrieved 2007-03-19.
- Freeman Dyson, By the Book: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/19/books/review/19bkr-bythebook_dyson.t.html?_r=0
- "An Interview with novelist Mary Doria Russell From the National Jesuit News". Retrieved 2013-09-24.
- "Mary Doria Russell". Science Fiction Awards Database (sfadb.com). Locus Science Fiction Foundation. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
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- Radio interview of Mary Doria Russell discussing Dreamers of the Day and more, with Richard Wolinsky on KPFA's Cover to Cover (April 10, 2008)
- Public radio interview of Mary Doria Russell and NPR book reviewer Alan Cheuse discussing historical fiction.
- WorldCat Identities Page
- Mary Doria Russell at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Mary Doria Russell at Library of Congress Authorities, with 7 catalog records