He was the son of Elena (née de Bosis), a painter, and Leone Vivante, a philosopher. The family fled to England in 1938, anticipating the war and the fascist government's anti-Semitic policies (Leone was Jewish). The British sent Arturo to an internment camp in Canada while his family remained in England for the duration of the war. He graduated from McGill University in 1944 and received his medical degree at University of Rome in 1949. He practiced medicine in Rome until 1958, but thereafter moved to New York to pursue writing full-time.
In addition to writing numerous short stories and three novels, Vivante taught writing courses at various colleges from 1968 to 1993, including the University of Michigan, University of Iowa, Bennington College, and MIT. After publication of his final book in 2006, he retired and lived in Wellfleet, Massachusetts until his death two years later.
His work has appeared in The New Yorker over 70 times, as well as other magazines including AGNI, Vogue, The New York Times, London Magazine, The Guardian, Antaeus, TriQuarterly, Santa Monica Review, and The Southern Review. His fiction often drew from autobiographical experiences with attention to the subtlest details of reflective observation.
- 1976 Italian Communication Award
- 1979 National Endowment for the Arts grant
- 1985 Guggenheim Fellowship
- 2004 Richard Sullivan Prize for short fiction
- 2006 Katherine Anne Porter Award for fiction
- A Goodly Babe (novel) Little, Brown: 1966.
- The French Girls of Killini (short stories) Little Brown; 1967.
- Doctor Giovanni (novel) Little, Brown; 1969.
- English Stories Street Fiction, 1975.
- Run to the Waterfall (short stories) Scribner: 1979.
- Writing Fiction Writing. Inc.: 1980.
- The Tales of Arturo Vivante, selected and with an introduction by Mary Kinzie, The Sheep Meadow Press; 1990.
- Solitude and Other Stores (short stories) University of Notre Dame Press; 2004.
- Truelove Knot, University of Notre Dame Press, 2006
- "Arturo Vivante: Italian-born writer with autobiographical bent", The Guardian, Christopher Hawtree, 1 May 2008
- "Arturo Vivante, 84", Provincetown Banner, Apr 10th, 2008
- "Arturo Vivante, at 84; was doctor-turned-author", The Boston Globe, Dennis Hevesi, April 13, 2008
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-06-11. Retrieved 2010-03-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Person Detail: Arturo Vivante - The NYSCA Literary Map of New York State and The NYSCA Literary Tree". www.nyslittree.org. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- "Arturo Vivante, Author of Tales Defined by Their Detail, Dies at 84", The New York Times, DENNIS HEVESI, April 12, 2008
- The Michigan Alumnus. UM Libraries. 1976.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-03-27. Retrieved 2010-03-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "AGNI Online: Author Arturo Vivante". www.bu.edu. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-19. Retrieved 2013-10-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)