Russell Smith was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and grew up in Halifax, Canada. He studied French literature at Queen’s, the University of Poitiers and at the University of Paris (III). He lives in Toronto.
Since 1989 he has been a freelance journalist and cultural commentator, publishing in Details, The New York Review of Books, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Life, NOW, Flare, Toro, Sharp and many other journals. He is writes a regular weekly column on the arts for the national Globe and Mail. He frequently appears on radio and television as an analyst of artistic and social trends.
An expert on language, he was the host of the popular CBC Radio One program “And Sometimes Y”, about words, language, for two seasons.
His fiction is largely contemporary in setting and satirical in tone. It has been nominated for several major awards, including the Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Award, the Rogers/Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize (twice), the Trillium Prize, the Chapters/Books In Canada First Novel Award, the City Of Toronto Book Prize, and the Danuta Gleed Award. He has twice won the National Magazine Award for fiction, and his novel Muriella Pent was selected as best fiction of its year by Amazon.ca.
An experienced teacher of creative writing, he runs a popular fiction workshop in the MFA in Creative Writing program at the University of Guelph. Several of his former students have published novels and memoirs. He also teaches writing at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. He has been writer-in-residence at the Toronto Reference Library and at Berton House in Dawson City, Yukon.