Born in Leamington, Ontario to parents from the Molise region of Italy, Nino Ricci completed studies at York University in Toronto, at Concordia University in Montreal, and at the University of Florence, and has taught extensively both in Canada and abroad, including two years at a secondary school in Nigeria with CUSO. In addition to taking part in workshops across the country and serving as an instructor at the Humber School for Writers since 1991, he has been writer-in-residence at the North York Public Library, the Kitchener Public Library, the University of Windsor, and the University of Toronto Scarborough, 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, the inaugural Killam Visting Professorship in Canadian Studies at Bridgewater State University, the Maclean Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Colorado College, and the L.G. Pathy Visiting Professorship in Canadian Studies at Princeton University. He is also a past president of PEN Canada.
Ricci's first novel, Lives of the Saints, garnered international acclaim, appearing in seventeen countries and winning a host of awards, including the Governor General's Award for Fiction. It formed the first volume of a trilogy that was completed by In A Glass House and Where She Has Gone. The Lives of the Saints trilogy was adapted as a miniseries starring Sophia Loren and Kris Kristofferson. Ricci is also the author of the novels Testament, winner of the Trillium Award, and The Origin of Species, winner of another Governor General's Award, and of the biography Pierre Elliott Trudeau, part of Penguin Canada’s Extraordinary Canadians series. His novel Sleep was published in 2015 and was the winner of Canadian Authors Association Fiction Award and a national bestseller.