In conversation with Robert Dessaix


Robert Dessaix and Caroline Baum will be will be in conversation on Robert's new book, The Time of Our Lives. What's the key to the art of growing older well? Is it an art that anyone can cultivate? How should we confront dying and death in a secular age? What about sex when we're older? What about loneliness? (And, for that matter, what about facelifts?)

At the height of his powers in this remarkable (and often witty) book, Robert Dessaix addresses these increasingly urgent questions in inimitable prose and comes up with some surprising answers. From Java to Hobart via Berlin, Dessaix invites us to eavesdrop on his intimate, no-nonsense conversations about ageing with friends and chance acquaintances.

Reflecting on time, religion, painting, dancing and even grandchildren, Dessaix takes us on an enlivening journey across the landscape of growing older. Riffing on writers and thinkers from Plato to Eva Hoffman, he homes in on the crucial importance of a rich inner life.

The Time of Our Lives is a wise and timely exploration of not just the challenges but also the many possibilities of old age.

'Dessaix writes with great elegance, with passion, compassion and sly wit' -John Banville

ANU alumni, Robert Dessaix is best-known as a writer of literary non-fiction, memoirs, essays and especially his autobiography, A Mother's Disgrace, but has also published two novels, several short stories and one play. Robert hosted the ABC National Radio's Books and Writing Program for ten years and has written and hosted programs on language, travel and public intellectuals. A full-time writer since 1995, Robert Dessaix now lives in Hobart, Tasmania, with his partner Peter Timms.

Caroline Baum has had a distinguished career in arts journalism. She has worked for the BBC, ABC, Time Life Books, Vogue magazine (UK and Australia), was the founding editor of Good Reading magazine and the editorial director of Booktopia. She is a regular contributor to national media. Her memoir, Only, was published in 2017. Caroline has been a judge of the Stella Prize and the Ned Kelly and Kibble Awards.  She is a regular presenter at writers' festivals across Australia.

Copies of Robert's book will be available for sale at Harry Hartog bookshop, ANU.


If you would like to submit a question for Robert to be answered in conversation, please include this when registering or alternatively, email your question to