Smith, Russell

Russell Smith, journalist, novelist, short-story writer (b at Johannesburg, South Africa 1963). After immigrating to Canada in 1967, Russell Smith grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The son of a Dalhousie University English professor, Smith studied French literature at both the University of Poitiers (France) and the University of Paris (III), and went on to acquire a Master's degree in French from Queen's University in 1987.

Smith moved to Toronto in 1989, where he quickly established himself as a freelance journalist, reviewer, and restaurant critic. His first novel, How Insensitive (1994), was nominated for the Trillium Book Award, the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award, and the GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARD for fiction. In this wry examination of the urban social scene, Smith exposes the troubled and frivolous lifestyles of Toronto's hopelessly trendy. He further extends this satirical representation of the city in his 1998 novel, Noise. Here, protagonist James Willing is equally critical of popular and literary culture in Canada; as a young writer, he longs for a meaningful mode of expression that extends beyond both the artificiality of suburbia and the media-crazed posturing of his peers. Work on this novel took place, in part, during Smith's 1996 stay at Berton House, located in Dawson City, Yukon, where he held the inaugural position of Writer in Residence.

Noise was followed by Young Men, a 1999 collection of short stories. "Party Going," the book's opening story, won the National Magazine Award for fiction in 1997. Smith then published a novella entitled The Princess and the Whiskheads (2002), which is a modern fable illustrated by engraver Wesley W. Bates. Muriella Pent (2004), his third novel, was nominated for the City of Toronto Book Award and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and was named as a 2004 best book by the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, and Quill & Quire. A comedic portrait of artists and their benefactors, Muriella Pent exposes the pretensions and decadent liaisons of its characters just as it embraces their more endearing and human weaknesses. Smith's first non-fiction book, Men's Style: The Thinking Man's Guide to Dress, was released in 2005.

As a cultural commentator for the Globe and Mail, and a prolific contributor of prose, poetry, and essays to many North-American periodicals, Smith continues to provoke controversy and critical acclaim.