Robert Dessaix

Robert Dessaix reviews 'The Friendly Ones' by Philip Hensher

Robert Dessaix
24 May 2018

‘Nothing matters very much,’ says Hilary Spinster, one of the main characters in Philip Hensher’s mammoth mêlée of a novel, ‘and most things don’t matter at all’. How true, w More

Robert Dessaix reviews 'House of Names' by Colm Tóibín

Robert Dessaix
25 July 2017

House of Names is a grim book, as any retelling of Aeschylus’s Oresteia is bound to be. It is a tale to harrow up your soul, to make your two eyes start from their sphe More

David McCooey reviews 'The Pleasures of Leisure' by Robert Dessaix

David McCooey
28 April 2017

The Last Resort (1986), a photobook by Martin Parr, includes a photograph of a woman sunbaking in the English seaside resort of New Brighton. The woman is lying, facedown and topl More

Reading Australia: 'A Mother's Disgrace' by Robert Dessaix

Kerryn Goldsworthy
12 September 2016

On the day that Robert Dessaix first came face to face with his birth mother, he was already in his mid-forties. Adopted as a newborn baby in 1944 by a couple who loved and cared for him through his childhood and adolescence, he had grown up in Sydney, had invented his own imaginary land with its own language, had been married for twelve years, divorced, negotiated ... More

Robert Dessaix

12 September 2016

Dessaix RobertRobert Dessaix is a writer, broadcaster, essayist, and memoirist. His best-known books are the autobiography A Mother's Disgrace (1994), the novels Night Letters (1996) and Corfu (2001), and the travel ... More

Open Page with Robert Dessaix

27 November 2014

Why do you write?

Because it’s magic – it turns the frog of life into a prince. (Or is it the other way round?) And it is, as Wilde once said of smoking, so exquisitely unsatisfying. Actually, the real reason I write is that talking, either aloud or on paper, is the only thing I’m good at.

Are you a vivid dr ... More

Delia Falconer reviews 'What Days Are For' by Robert Dessaix

Delia Falconer
24 November 2014

Robert Dessaix’s authorial voice reminds me of Christina Stead’s description of a small, clear wave running up a beach at low tide, playfully ‘ringing its air-bells’. He is not a writer of direct, declarative prose. Instead, Dessaix specialises in sentences that skip over and around their subjects, sometimes darting nimbly into brackets to investigate a seco ... More

Robert Dessaix on 'The Testament of Mary'

Robert Dessaix
27 November 2013

What a scandal! The Blessed Virgin sprawled on a bed in the half-dark, dead as a doornail, belly swollen, bare legs sticking out for all the world to see. What could Caravaggio have been thinking of?

... More

Robert Dessaix's Seymour Lecture: Pushing against the dark

Robert Dessaix
20 March 2012

If you’re a theatregoer, then somewhere along the line you’re bound to have seen The Government Inspector, Nikolai Gogol’s comedy about a rapacious nobody being mistaken for a government official by the citizens of a nameless provincial backwater. (They too are nobodies, greedy to be somebodies.) You might remember (since it’s a line that will ... More