His novels have appeared on bestseller lists in 12 different countries, including the USA, Great Britain, Portugal, Italy, and Australia, and he has won numerous prizes for his work, including a 1994 National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Fiction and the 1998 Herodotus Award for the best historical novel.
Zimler applied the "Page 99 Test" to Guardian of the Dawn and reported the following:
My novel, Guardian of the Dawn, takes place in the Portuguese colony of Goa during the early 17th century, and it is an historical mystery that explores the dangers of religious fundamentalism. The narrator, Tiago, is imprisoned as a secret Jew by the Inquisition, which the Church and Portuguese Crown imposed on Goa in order to punish any residents who deviated from Roman Catholicism. On page 99, Tiago is being interrogated by the Grand Inquisitor, and he comes to realize that he can no longer trust any of his friends and family – that one of them must have informed on him. Even the other prisoner in his cell – Phanishwar, an Indian snake-dancer whom Tiago has grown to admire – may have been asked to befriend him in order to learn his secrets and destroy his resolve. And so it is that Tiago realizes that all his ties of love and family are gone, and that he can only count on himself if he is ever to avoid being burnt at the stake. At this point, the Inquisitor promises to let him sign a confession and earn his freedom if he can answer a riddle: “I speak to you on my journey – and only to you – from my departure point to the very end. And though I always die in the same place, you can hear me speaking from my closed grave if you pay close attention. Who am I?”Visit Richard Zimler's website to learn more about his books, short stories, and reviews and interviews.