Speculative Fiction / Criticism / Belles lettres / Philosophy
Here’s what some people are saying about Justin Smith-Ruiu’s writing:
“Hugely enjoyable” —Neil Gaiman
“[R]eally and truly great.” —Jamaica Kincaid
“Just a deep and lovely read.” —Nick Cave
“Delightful.” —Galen Strawson
“I really love the newsletter.” —Ezra Klein
“Oddly moving.” —China Miéville
“My subscription to your Substack has proved one of the most enjoyable and enchanting adventures to have befallen me lately.” —Stephen Fry
“I think you are cracking something open… that the entire culture is bashing its head against right now trying to solve. Thank you for this and please keep going.” —Kristen Roupenian
“[A]bout as rocking a writer as you can find inside or outside philosophy.” —Crispin Sartwell
“I love [your writing]. It's smart, witty, careful, lively, and persuasive — and deeply humanistic.” —Leon Wieseltier
“Bracing.” —Anna Khachiyan
I am a writer based in Paris, formerly known as Justin E. H. Smith.
I am represented by Andrew Stuart of the Stuart Agency.
In 2019-20, I was the John and Constance Birkelund Fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers of the New York Public Library.
I am also a professor of philosophy in the department of history and philosophy of science at the Université Paris Cité.
I write speculative fiction, documentary metafiction, criticism, literary non-fiction, and poetry, and I also translate poetry.
I currently have four books under contract. They are, in likely order of appearance:
Olonkho: Translations from the Sakha Oral Epic of Northeastern Siberia, with Liubomira Romanova, World Literatures in Translation Series, University of California Press, 2024.
On Drugs: Philosophy, Psychedelics, and the Nature of Reality, W. W. Norton/Liveright, 2025.
The Philosopher and the Tsar: Leibniz, Russia, and the Making of a Scientific Empire, Princeton University Press, 2025.
A Global History of Philosophy, to 1750, Princeton University Press, someday.
I am also currently writing a fictional translation of the Voynich Manuscript. I’m still looking for a publisher — it will have to be one prepared to print some very expensive and ornate illustrations.
My most recent quasi-scholarly book, The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is, appeared in 2022 from Princeton University Press.
I am co-author, with D. Graham Burnett and Catherine Hansen, of In Search of the Third Bird: Exemplary Essays from The Proceedings of ESTAR(SER), 2001-2021, a work of historiographical metafiction, which appeared in 2021 from MIT/Strange Attractor Press.
For 15 years, from 2005 to 2020, I regularly posted long-form essays at my website, www.jehsmith.com. I also frequently wrote for various print and online media, but like many people who are moving to the newsletter format I grew tired of being forced by editors, and by the economic and political forces that constrain editors in turn, to use words that were not my own. Substack solves that problem. I sincerely hope you will join me here, and I am very grateful for your readership.
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