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Robertson, Deborah 1959–

Robertson, Deborah 1959–


Born 1959, in Bridgetown, Western Australia, Australia. Education: Western Australia Institute of Technology, B.A.


Home—Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia. Office—School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Division of Arts, Murdoch University, Fremantle, Western Australia 6150, Australia. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer. Murdoch University, Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia, lecturer.


Steele Rudd Award, 1998, for Proudflesh; Nita B. Kibble Award, 2007, for Careless.


Proudflesh (short stories), Fremantle Arts Centre Press (South Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia), 1997.

Careless (novel), Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 2007, MacAdam/Cage (San Francisco, CA), 2008.


Deborah Robertson is a writer who teaches creative writing classes to journalism students at Murdoch University in Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia. She also lectures in Australian and American literature, and studies in medicine and the body. Robertson received a bachelor's degree in English from Western Australia Institute of Technology (now Curtin University of Technology) and contributed numerous stories and articles to various publications in Australia and abroad. She published her first book, Proudflesh, in 1997. This collection of short stories won the Steele Rudd Award in 1998, being named the best Australian collection of short stories.

In 2007, Robertson published her first novel, Careless, which focuses on the universality of grief and hope. Eight-year-old Pearl witnesses her younger brother being killed by an enraged driver while under her supervision. Her mother, Lily, exploits her daughter's grief to get media attention and later tries to find solace with Adam, a selfish artist who is commissioned to design the town's children's memorial. Commenting on the meaning of the book's title in an interview on the Glee Books Web site, Robertson stated: ‘The book does explore carelessness as an inescapable fact of human nature, and therefore of all our communities and institutions. The effects of carelessness can be both catastrophic, and slight. Good and evil don't seem nearly as compelling to me as this seemingly more mundane negligence, and its opposite—the many, many moments when people do stop, look, and take care."

Robertson's debut novel received a great deal of attention from literary critics. Reviews, however, were mixed. Rachel Hore, writing in the London Guardian, noted the ‘neatly sewn plot’ full of ‘heavy subject matter.’ Hore continued, saying that Robertson's observations were ‘as carefully chosen and charged with feeling as pebbles placed on a grave.’ A contributor to Publishers Weekly found the novel ‘marked by lyrical prose, credible characters, and some artful links between the several story lines.’ The same critic, however, thought the story was ‘emotionally flat and chilly,’ overall. Writing in Culture Wars, Kiranjeet Kaur Gill commented: ‘One particular talent that Robertson seems to have is being able to portray feelings—I often found myself startled by how well she puts into words emotions that many [of] us will have felt, and the way in which the story slips between the past and the present shows just how raw and how real these emotions, and the characters' grief, still are.’ Gill added that ‘Robertson also achieves a great deal in terms of characterisation.’ Lisa Gee, contributing a review on the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction Web site, concluded: ‘It's a shockingly honest novel, well-crafted and appropriately understated. Keep plenty of tissues to hand whilst reading."



Bookseller, September 21, 2007, Julia Kingsford, review of Careless, p. 13.

Bulletin with Newsweek, June 13, 2006, Peter Pierce, review of Careless, p. 69.

Guardian (London, England), February 3, 2007, Rachel Hore, review of Careless.

Publishers Weekly, September 24, 2007, review of Careless, p. 40.

Sydney Morning Herald, June 3, 2006, Angela Bennie, ‘When the Water Falls."


Culture Wars, (July 13, 2007), Kiranjeet Kaur Gill, review of Careless.

Glee Books Web site, (November 6, 2007), author interview.

Melbourne Writers Festival, (November 6, 2007), author profile.

Murdoch University Department of Social Sciences and Humanities Web site, (November 6, 2007), author profile.

Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction Web site, (November 6, 2007), Lisa Gee, review of Careless.

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