Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Mary Doria Russell  

Pen Name: None

Genre:

Born: 1950 in Elmhurst, Illinois

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Illinois Connection

Russell was born in --- and grew up in Lombard, Illinois. She attended Sacred Heart Catholic elementary school and Glenbard East High School. She worked at the Helen M. Plum Memorial Library as a teenager.

Biographical and Professional Information

Mary Doria Russell has been called one of the most versatile writers in contemporary American literature. Her acclaimed novels are studied in literature, theology, and history courses in colleges and universities across the United States. Her novels have won nine national and international literary awards, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the James Tiptree Award, and the American Library Association Readers' Choice Award. The Sparrow was selected as one of Entertainment Weekly’s ten best books of the year and A Thread of Grace was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. The Sparrow and Children of God have been optioned for Hollywood movies starring Antonio Banderas and Brad Pitt.Russell studied anthropology and paleoanthropology before teaching gross anatomy at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio. She began writing fiction after leaving academia.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

The Sparrow
ISBN: 1423356276

Brilliance Audio. 2008

Emilio Sandoz is a remarkable man, a living saint and Jesuit priest who undergoes an experience so harrowing and profound that it makes him question the existence of God. This experience―the first contact between human beings and intelligent extraterrestrial life―begins with a small mistake and ends in a horrible catastrophe.

Sandoz is a part of the crew sent to explore a new planet. What they find is a civilization so alien and incomprehensible that they feel compelled to wonder what it means to be human.

The priest is the only surviving member of the crew and upon his return he is confronted by public inquisition and accusations of the most heinous crimes imaginable. His faith utterly destroyed, crippled and defenseless, his only hope is to tell his tale. Father John Candotti has been charged with discovering the truth, but the truth may be more than Earth is willing to accept.

Children of God.
ISBN: 0375751211

Villard Books. New York. 1998

Thread Of Grace
ISBN: 0552772887

BLACK SWAN (TWLD). 2006

Set in Italy during the dramatic finale of World War II, this new novel is the first in seven years by the bestselling author of The Sparrow and Children of God.

It is September 8, 1943, and fourteen-year-old Claudette Blum is learning Italian with a suitcase in her hand. She and her father are among the thousands of Jewish refugees scrambling over the Alps toward Italy, where they hope to be safe at last, now that the Italians have broken with Germany and made a separate peace with the Allies. The Blums will soon discover that Italy is anything but peaceful, as it becomes overnight an open battleground among the Nazis, the Allies, resistance fighters, Jews in hiding, and ordinary Italian civilians trying to survive.

Mary Doria Russell sets her first historical novel against this dramatic background, tracing the lives of a handful of fascinating characters. Through them, she tells the little-known but true story of the network of Italian citizens who saved the lives of forty-three thousand Jews during the war’s final phase. The result of five years of meticulous research, A Thread of Grace is an ambitious, engrossing novel of ideas, history, and marvelous characters that will please Russell’s many fans and earn her even more.

Dreamers Of The Day
ISBN: 0385614543

Random House. 2008

“I suppose I ought to warn you at the outset that my present circumstances are puzzling, even to me. Nevertheless, I am sure of this much: My little story has become your history. You won’t really understand your times until you understand mine.”

So begins the account of Agnes Shanklin, the charmingly diffident narrator of Mary Doria Russell’s compelling new novel, Dreamers of the Day. And what is Miss Shanklin’s “little story?” Nothing less than the creation of the modern Middle East at the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference, where Winston Churchill, T. E. Lawrence, and Lady Gertrude Bell met to decide the fate of the Arab world–and of our own.

A forty-year-old schoolteacher from Ohio still reeling from the tragedies of the Great War and the influenza epidemic, Agnes has come into a modest inheritance that allows her to take the trip of a lifetime to Egypt and the Holy Land. Arriving at the Semiramis Hotel just as the Peace Conference convenes, Agnes, with her plainspoken American opinions–and a small, noisy dachshund named Rosie–enters into the company of the historic luminaries who will, in the space of a few days at a hotel in Cairo, invent the nations of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan.

Neither a pawn nor a participant at the conference, Agnes is ostensibly insignificant, and that makes her a welcome sounding board for Churchill, Lawrence, and Bell. It also makes her unexpectedly attractive to the charismatic German spy Karl Weilbacher. As Agnes observes the tumultuous inner workings of nation-building, she is drawn more and more deeply into geopolitical intrigue and toward a personal awakening.

With prose as graceful and effortless as a seductive float down the Nile, Mary Doria Russell illuminates the long, rich history of the Middle East with a story that brilliantly elucidates today’s headlines. As enlightening as it is entertaining, Dreamers of the Day is a memorable, passionate, gorgeously written novel.


Awards

-- John W. Campbell Award
, Best New Novelist, 1998Arthur C. Clarke Award James Tiptree Award American Library Association Readers' Choice Award