Alessandro Baricco began his writing career in the field of musicology, publishing essays, working as a music critic for La Repubblica and La Stampa, and starring in television programs about opera and literature. Later in 1993 Baricco co-founded Scuola Holden, a creative writing school in Turin that offers courses on narrative techniques in screenwriting, journalism, video games, novels, and short stories.
While in residency at the Gardner Museum in 2001, Baricco divided his time between talking with Museum staff, exploring Boston (he was particularly interested in the Media Lab at MIT), and immersing himself in American sports culture. One afternoon, he held an impromptu reading (alternating between Italian and English) in the Tapestry Room from City, the manuscript he was working on. In a piece Baricco wrote about his experience for the Museum’s Fall 2002 newsletter, he said that his residency was like entering “a world prepared by some solicitous godmother whose only concern is your peace of mind...Peaceful I am not, so it was a bit like undergoing a cure…”—but one that resulted in a new book. He returned in October, shortly after the publication of City, to give a special presentation of the novel as an Eye of the Beholder program. Later, in the acknowledgements for his novella Senza Sangue (Without Blood), Baricco thanked the Gardner for giving him "the gift of silence, without which a story cannot begin."
Alessandro Baricco debuted as a novelist with Castelli di Rabbia (Lands of Glass) in 1991 and has published thirteen novels since then. His novels have won numerous literary awards, including the Prix Médicis in France and the Selezione Campiello, Viareggio and Palazzo del Bosco prizes in Italy. Academy Award winning writer and director Giuseppe Tornatore made a film adaptation of his monologue, Novecento, called The Legend of 1900; several other of Baricco’s works have been adapted for the screen.