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Naben Ruthnum

Naben Ruthnum’s first monograph, Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race, is a critically acclaimed venture into memoir, literary criticism and sociology. A first-generation Mauritian-Canadian, Ruthnum spent his childhood and teen years in Kelowna, British Columbia. He earned an MA in English literature from McGill University in Montreal. His thesis, available online, is entitled Haunted Artworks: Oscar Wilde and the British Ghost Story. Ruthnum’s first novel, a psychological thriller called Find You in the Dark, is published under his pen name: Nathan Ripley. Ruthnum has written on books and culture for several Canadian newspapers and magazines. His crime fiction has been published in well-known journals. His short story, “Cinema Rex,” originally published in the literary magazine The Malahat Review, was the winner of the Writers’ Trust of Canada / McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize for 2013. Ruthnum lives in Toronto.

Fiction (Thriller)

Find You in the Dark

By Nathan Ripley.
Toronto: Simon & Schuster Canada, 2018.

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

In this chilling debut thriller, in the vein of Dexter and The Talented Mr. Ripley, a family man obsessed with digging up the undiscovered remains of serial killer victims catches the attention of a murderer prowling the streets of Seattle.

Martin Reese is obsessed with murder.

For years, he has been illegally buying police files on serial killers and studying them in depth, using them as guides to find missing bodies. He doesn’t take any souvenirs, just photos that he stores in an old laptop, and then he turns in the results to the police anonymously. Martin sees his work as a public service, a righting of wrongs that cops have continuously failed to do.

Detective Sandra Whittal sees it differently. On a meteoric rise in police ranks due to her case-closing efficiency, Whittal is suspicious of the mysterious caller—the Finder, she names him—leading the police to the bodies. Even if the Finder isn’t the one leaving bodies behind, who’s to say that he won’t start soon?

Fiction (Thriller)

Your Life Is Mine

By Nathan Ripley.
Toronto: Simon & Schuster Canada, 2019.

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Blanche, an up-and-coming filmmaker, has distanced herself in every way she can from her father, the notorious killer and cult leader, Chuck Varner. In 1996, when she was a small child, he went on a shooting spree before turning the gun on himself.

Now, Blanche learns that her mother has been murdered. She returns to her childhood home, where she soon discovers there’s more to the death than police are willing to reveal. The officer who’s handling the case is holding information back, and a journalist who’s nosing around the investigation is taking an unusual interest in Blanche’s family.

Blanche begins to suspect that Chuck Varner’s cult has found a new life, and that her mother’s murder was just the beginning of the cult’s next chapter.

Then another killing occurs.


Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race

Toronto: Coach House Books, 2017.
DS432.5 .R88 2017

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Curry is a dish that doesn’t quite exist, but, as this hilarious and sharp essay points out, a dish that doesn’t properly exist can have infinite, equally authentic variations.By grappling with novels, recipes, travelogues, pop culture, and his own background, Naben Ruthnum depicts how the distinctive taste of curry has often become maladroit shorthand for brown identity. With the sardonic wit of Gita Mehta’s Karma Cola and the refined, obsessive palette of Bill Buford’s Heat, Ruthnum sinks his teeth into the story of how the beloved flavour calcified into an aesthetic genre that limits the imaginations of writers, readers, and eaters. Following in the footsteps of Salman Rushdie’s Imaginary Homelands, Curry cracks open anew the staid narrative of an authentically Indian diasporic experience.

Awards and Honours


Anthology (Short story)

“Cinema Rex” was first published in The Malahat Review. It won the 2013 Journey Prize. It appeared in The Journey Prize: Stories: The Best of Canada’s New Writers (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2013), p. 123-156.


Naben Ruthnum personal Twitter presence

Publisher Coach House Books

Publisher Simon & Schuster Canada