Wright, Richard Bruce

Richard Bruce Wright, novelist, editor, teacher (b at Midland, Ont 4 Mar 1937). Richard Wright's novels frequently explore lives in urban Canada and crises of personal identity in modern cities. Richard Wright studied radio and television arts at the Ryerson Institute of Technology (now RYERSON UNIVERSITY), from which he graduated in 1959. After a brief career as a radio and newspaper journalist, Wright joined Macmillan Company of Canada, working first as an editor, then as a sales manager. Many of his books feature central characters employed by the publishing industry. Wright returned to school to study English Literature at Trent University (BA 1972). After graduation, he became a teacher at Ridley College, a position he held, with a short break in the 1980s, until his retirement in 2001.

Andrew Tolliver (1965), his first published book, was written in response to the poor quality of submissions for a new children's book series his publishing company had launched. Submitted under a pseudonym, the novel was accepted, and then published under his own name. A mystery about a small-town robbery, it has been reissued as One John A. Too Many (1984). Wright's well-received first adult novel, The Weekend Man (1971), concerns Wes Wakeham, a 30-year-old textbook salesman. Like its follow-up, In the Middle of a Life (1973), the novel features a male protagonist struggling with emotional, moral and economic problems.

Richard Wright's comic third novel, Farthing's Fortunes (1976), is a sprawling epic fable of North American life; its story spans the 65 years of the life of Bill Farthing, an Ontario farmboy and pursuer of the North American dream. In Final Things (1980), Wright returns to the setting of contemporary Toronto and examines the social and psychological disorientation of a middle-class man whose young son is brutally assaulted and murdered. Another story of alienation and urban violence, The Teacher's Daughter (1982), traces the erratic love affair of a lonely woman and a psychologically unstable drifter and petty criminal.

Tourists (1984) is a black comedy about the animosity between Canadian and American vacationers in Mexico. A more gentle humour is featured in Sunset Manor (1990), set in a senior's residence and featuring a retired schoolteacher as protagonist. Richard Wright again draws on his experiences in publishing in The Age of Longing (1995), nominated for a GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARD. A somewhat melancholy novel, it centres on an editor who considers his parents' lives and their difficult marriage through "memory and imagination and language."

An accomplished writer whose book sales had rarely matched the critical acclaim, Richard Wright achieved a commercial breakthrough with Clara Callan (2001). This Depression-era tale is related through the journals and letters of two sisters - one a lonely schoolteacher in rural Ontario, the other the star of a radio soap opera in New York - and their lesbian friend, a Hollywood scriptwriter. It was awarded the Governor General's Award, the SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE, and was named Book of the Year at the Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Awards. Richard Wright returns to his familiar terrain of the book publishing world with the literary thriller Adultery (2004). The story follows a senior publishing executive who must face devastating consequences after a young colleague with whom he is having an affair is abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered.