The Origin of Species
Set in Montreal in 1986, The Origin of Species is the story of a thirty-something Alex Fratarcangeli ("I can't even pronounce it myself," he admits to an acquaintance), plagued by a familiar sense of being a fraud in all aspects of his life from his professional ambitions to his romantic involvements. Alex is by all accounts an unexceptional man, 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.
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There has never been a document of culture which was not at one and the same time a document of barbarism.
“Theses on the Philosophy of History,” VII
The girl standing in the foyer when Alex went down to...
1. Discuss the many pairings of fathers and sons in the novel. Do you see an underlying theme in their depictions? How does it relate to the theme of the novel itself?
2. Discuss Alex’s relationships with older male authority figures. How is he different with each of them? Why do you think this is?
WINNER OF THE CANADIAN AUTHOR'S ASSOCIATION AWARD FOR FICTION
FINALIST FOR THE TRILLIUM AWARD
FINALIST FOR THE COMMONWEALTH WRITERS' PRIZE (Canada and Caribbean)
LONGLISTED FOR THE SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
A Globe and Mail Best Book
"Ricci's masterstroke to date. This novel does so well, on so many levels, that it's hard to know where to begin tallying up the riches.... Each sentence, each word, feels exactly right.... He triumphs utterly here in rare achievement." Toronto Star
"Ricci writes beautifully, sentence by sentence." National Post
"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." The Boston Globe