Russell Smith was born in South Africa and raised in Halifax, the son of a university professor and a teacher. He began his career as a writer in Toronto after studying at universities in France and Canada.
His first novel, How Insensitive, was published in 1994 and nominated for the Governor General's Award, the Trillium Award, and the Chapters/Books In Canada First Novel Award, and became a bestseller in Canada. He is also the author of the novel Noise, the award winning story collection Young Men, and an illustrated adult fable, The Princess and the Whiskheads.
A popular and controversial weekly columnist with The Globe and Mail, Russell Smith's articles on a variety of subjects have appeared in The New York Review of Books, Details, Travel and Leisure, Toronto Life, EnRoute, Toro and elsewhere. He is currently working on Russell Smith's Style, a sociological guide to men's clothing, to be published by McClelland and Stewart in the fall of 2005.
Russell Smith lives in Toronto.
"Smith writes some of the most luminous prose in Canadian fiction. . . . He mines and refines the best of what has come before on the way to making it his own. Also, Smith is entirely credible when writing female characters. . . . One catches quiet echoes of Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf."
--The Gazette (Montreal)
"[Marcus] Royston is one of the most convincing characters I've come across in Canadian fiction. . . . Interspersed with the biting wit is an almost elegiac quality to the writing."
--The Globe and Mail
"This is a valuable addition to the Canadian canon, rivaling the early work of another skilled satirist of the urbane and urban, Mordecai Richler."
"The best Canadian novel published in 2004 was Muriella Pent.... Russell Smith is one of the best stylists of my generation. His prose is exact, surprising, and written by a man with a fine ear."
--Andre Alexis, author of Childhood, in The Globe and Mail
"The heart of the novel beats in time with D.H. Lawrence and Henry Miller and all the writers before and after them who, when you sweat their books down to the essentials, say simply that sex is an artery of life. Muriella Pent plays out on a bigger canvas than Smith has worked on before. It's the work of a good novelist who wants to be a better novelist. And has become one. There's a gifted and sensually alert writer at the wheel here."
"Deserves to stand as one of the strongest Canadian novels of the year"
"Irresistibly poignant.... Readers looking to spice up their book club will have plenty to talk about with Russell Smith's latest, Muriella Pent. "
"Read any page of Muriella Pent at random and it will become immediately obvious that you're in the presence of a talented writer. . . . The really exciting aspect of Muriella Pent is the masterful way Smith presents his two central characters."
--The Record (Kitchener-Waterloo)
"We need writers like Smith to remind us of the grim truth of this strange country.... It's a funny, poignant, ambitious, and highly entertaining book and the boldest work yet in Smith's bleak oeuvre."
--Books in Canada
"[Russell Smith is] something of a literary heir to Margaret Atwood"
--The Toronto Star
"A novel of manners about ambitious young downtowners of an artistic bent, Muriella Pent is adroit and amusing. And in its depiction of one exceptional character, Caribbean poet Marcus Royston, it is very good indeed."