Despite school years in Halifax (Dalhousie ’63) and working years in Montreal (Dawson College) Ray Smith has always considered Mabou, Cape Breton, home. Retired from teaching in 2007, he now lives in Mabou in the house built by his grandfather – who also built as his store the building which is now The Red Shoe Pub. He has two exemplary sons, Nicholas and Alexander.
“A brilliant stylist” (Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature), he nonetheless has no Smith style: each of his seven books is unique. Somewhat over half the work is comic, often hilariously so. Although usually set in Canada with Canadian characters, the books reflect his extensive travel and international perspective. Important sections of his work are set in Iceland, Venice, Edinburgh, Paris, Zurich, and Germany, and other languages appear often. A dramatic performer, Smith has done over 250 readings of his work in North America and in a dozen European countries. Many of the stories and chapters have been published separately in journals and anthologies. Smith has also published criticism, reviews, travel pieces, etc, in newspapers, magazines, journals, and on radio in Canada and Europe. He was writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta (1986-87) and Canada-Scotland Writing Fellow in Edinburgh (1987-88). A Night at the Opera won the Hugh MacLennan Best Fiction Award in 1992. Charles Foran recently sent Century to the prime minister as number 78 on Yann Martel’s project, What is Stephen Harper Reading?