Ardizzone was raised on the North Side of Chicago. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in 1971 and from Bowling Green State University with an MFA in 1975. In 1973 he also did a year of study at the University of Illinois at Chicago
He taught at Saint Mary's Center for Learning (Chicago), Bowling Green State University, Old Dominion University, and Vermont College of Norwich University. In 1985, he taught at Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco. His work appeared in Ploughshares.
He served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs.
- 1986 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction for The Evening News
- 1992 Milkweed National Fiction Prize for Larabi's Ox: Stories of Morocco.
- 1992 Chicago Foundation for Literature Award for Fiction for Larabi's Ox: Stories of Morocco.
- 1986 Virginia Prize for Fiction, for Heart of the Order
- Lawrence Foundation Award
- Bruno Arcudi Literature Prize
- Prairie Schooner Readers' Choice Award
- Black Warrior Review Literary Award in Fiction
- Cream City Review Editors' Award in Nonfiction
- National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship
- The Whale Chaser (Academy Chicago Publishers, 2010) ISBN 978-0-89733-610-9
- In the Garden of Papa Santuzzu (Picador USA/St. Martin's Press, 1999) ISBN 978-0-312-26341-6 (trade paperback edition 2000 MacMillan)
- Heart of the Order (Henry Holt and Company, 1986) ISBN 978-0-03-008503-1
- In the Name of the Father (novel) (Doubleday & Company, 1978) ISBN 978-0-385-14080-5
Short story collections
- Taking it Home: Stories from the Neighborhood (The University of Illinois Press, 1996) ISBN 978-0-252-06483-8
- Larabi's Ox: Stories of Morocco (Milkweed Editions, 1992) ISBN 978-0-915943-72-2
- The Evening News (stories) (University of Georgia Press, 1986) ISBN 978-0-8203-0860-9
- "Cavaduzzo’s of Cicero", AGNI, 1999
- Carol Bonomo Albright, Joanna Clapps Herman, ed. (2008). "Lamb Soup". Wild Dreams: The Best of Italian Americana. Fordham University Press. ISBN 978-0-8232-2910-9.
- Bill Tonelli, ed. (2005). "Cavadduzzo's of Cicero". The Italian American Reader. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-000667-9.
- Hilda Raz, ed. (2001). "Larabi's Ox". Best of Prairie schooner: fiction and poetry. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0-8032-8972-7.
- Bill Henderson, ed. (1992). The Pushcart Prize, XVI: Best of the Small Presses. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-73435-0.
- The Habit of Art: Best Stories from the Indiana University Fiction Workshop. Indiana University Press. 2005. ISBN 978-0-253-21807-0.
- Intro 12 (anthology of fiction and poetry). Norfolk: The Associated Writing Programs. 1981. ISBN 978-0-936266-02-2.
- Intro 11 (anthology of fiction and poetry). Norfolk: Associated Writing Programs, 1980.
- Intro 10 (anthology of fiction and poetry). New York: Hendel & Reinke. 1979. ISBN 978-0-918656-05-6.
The "Waxing the Floor Metaphor"
In addition to his extensive work as a creative writing instructor, Tony Ardizzone is widely acknowledged to be the originator of the "Wax The Floor Metaphor" for fiction writing, a well-known model for the drafting process of a literary work. Ardizzone's model differs from others' in key ways (certain imagery and performative embellishments used) but is considered by many to be the purest, most authentic version. The metaphor essentially advises students of creative writing to work in stages of complete drafts from beginning to end. Just as it would be ill-advised for a janitor to sweep, mop, wax and buff a single square of a tile floor before moving on to the next and repeating the process, students are warned with this model not to spend time editing and polishing individual paragraphs and chapters before the first draft has been completed and "the entire picture laid out," as novelist John Updike once put it.
- "Tony Ardizzone", Indiana University
- Fred L. Gardaphé (2006). "Fresh Garbage: The Gangster as Trickster - David Chase and Tony Ardizzone". From wiseguys to wise men: the gangster and Italian American masculinities. CRC Press. ISBN 978-0-415-94648-3.