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An interview with Robbie Arnott

by Australian Book Review
September 2022, no. 446

An interview with Robbie Arnott

by Australian Book Review
September 2022, no. 446
Robbie Arnott (photograph by Mitch Osborne)
Robbie Arnott (photograph by Mitch Osborne)


Robbie Arnott’s début, Flames (2018), won a Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelist award and a Tasmanian Premier’s Literary Prize. His follow-up, The Rain Heron (2020), won the Age Book of the Year award, and was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the ALS Gold Medal, the Voss Literary Prize and an Adelaide Festival Award. His latest novel is Limberlost (2022). He lives in Hobart.


If you could go anywhere tomorrow, where would it be, and why?
I’ve always wanted to go to Patagonia. Even thinking about it fills me with a sense of adventure and isolation and natural beauty. I feel as though if I went there I’d come to some new understanding of things. It’s a silly feeling, but I can’t shake it. 

What’s your idea of hell?
Any meeting that goes for more than half an hour.

What do you consider the most specious virtue?
Passion (or the dreaded Vision). I think both are often used as excuses to treat others poorly.

What’s your favourite film?
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011).

And your favourite book?
Old School (2003), by Tobias Wolff.

Name the three people with whom you would most like to dine.
I have some friends who died young, so I’d go to the pub with them.

Which word do you most dislike, and which one would you like to see back in public usage?
Learnings (or any corporate jargon). Every time I hear jargon, I feel as if the world loses a bit of colour. I’d like to see blood referred to as claret more often. It reminds me of my grandfather, and the vibrant way he would use language and colloquialisms.

Who is your favourite author? 
I find this hard to answer, because there are many writers who have written books I adore, but I don’t necessary love their whole body of work. So I’m just going to say Annie Proulx. Her writing means a tremendous amount to me.

And your favourite literary hero or heroine?
Philip Marlowe. He’s compelling, charismatic, and funny. Despite all his toughness and bluntness, he is kind to people who need kindness. 

Which quality do you most admire in a writer?

Which book influenced you most in your youth?
The Redwall series, by Brian Jacques.

Name an early literary idol or influence whom you no longer admire.
J.K. Rowling.

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Comment (1)

  • I know it’s a cliche, but I could not stop reading 'Limberlost' once I started. Such vulnerable characters, like everyone I guess.
    I recommend it to everyone. A gem.
    Posted by Dax McHarg
    31 May 2023

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