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Biography

Richard Zimler was born in 1956. After earning a bachelor’s degree in comparative religion from Duke University (1977) and a master’s degree in journalism from Stanford University (1982), he worked for eight years as a journalist, mainly in the San Francisco Bay area. In 1990, he moved to Porto, Portugal, where he taught journalism for sixteen years, first at the College of Journalism and later at the University of Porto.

Richard has published ten novels over the last 18 years. In chronological order, they are: The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, Unholy Ghosts, The Angelic Darkness, Hunting Midnight, Guardian of the Dawn, The Search for Sana, The Seventh Gate. The Warsaw Anagrams, Strawberry Fields Forever (in Portugal and Brazil only) and The Night Watchman. His novels have appeared on bestseller lists in 12 different countries, including the USA, Great Britain, Portugal, Italy, Brazil and Australia.

Richard has won numerous prizes for his work, including the Marquis de Ouro prize in 2010 - as Book of the Year in Portugal - for The Warsaw Anagrams.  This prize is voted on by high school teachers and students.  He also won the 2009 Alberto Benveniste prize in fiction for Guardian of the Dawn (for best Jewish-themed novel published in France), and the 1998 Herodotus Award, for The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon (Best First Historical Novel). Additionally, The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon was picked as 1998 Book of the Year by three British critics. Five of his novels, including his most recent - The Night Watchman - have been nominated for the International IMPAC Literary Award, the richest prize in the English-speaking world.  The other novels nominated are: Hunting Midnight, The Search for Sana, The Warsaw Anagrams and The Seventh Gate. Richard was also granted a 1994 U.S. National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Fiction.

The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, Hunting Midnight, Guardian of the Dawn and The Seventh Gate form the “Sephardic Cycle,” a group of inter-connected – but fully independent – novels about different branches and generations of a Portuguese Jewish family.

A short film he wrote and acted in - The Slow Mirror - was awarded the Best Drama award at the 2010 New York Downtown Short Film Festival. 

When he isn't writing or publicizing his books, Richard enjoys gardening at his weekend house in the north of Portugal. He is married to Alexandre Quintanilha. 


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