Geoff Dyer (born 5 June 1958) is an English writer. He is the author of four novels and seven books of non-fiction, which have won a number of literary awards and been translated into 24 languages. Kathryn Schulz, writing in New York, described him as “one of our greatest living critics, not of the arts but of life itself, and one of our most original writers”.
Dyer was born and raised in Cheltenham, England, as the only child of a sheet metal worker father and a school dinner lady mother. He was educated at the local grammar school and won a scholarship to study English at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He is married to Rebecca Wilson, chief curator at Saatchi Art, Los Angeles. In March 2014, Dyer revealed that he had had a minor stroke earlier in the year, shortly after moving to live in Venice, Los Angeles.
Dyer is the author of four novels: The Colour of Memory, The Search, Paris Trance, and, most recently, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi; a critical study of John Berger, Ways of Telling; three collections of essays, Anglo-English Attitudes, Working the Room and Otherwise Known as the Human Condition (a selection from the previous two essay collections published in the US); and six genre-defying titles: But Beautiful (on jazz), The Missing of the Somme (on the memorialization of the First World War), Out of Sheer Rage (about D H Lawrence), Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It, The Ongoing Moment (on photography), and Zona (about Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 film Stalker). He is the editor of John Berger: Selected Essays and co-editor, with Margaret Sartor, of What Was True: The Photographs and Notebooks of William Gedney.
A selection of essays from Anglo-English Attitudes and Working the Room entitled Otherwise Known as the Human Condition was published in the US in April 2011 and won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.
His most recent book, Another Great Day at Sea (2014), chronicles Dyer’s experiences on the USS George H.W. Bush, where he was writer-in-residence for two weeks. It has been described by David Finkel, author of Thank You for Your Service, as “what we’ve all come to expect from Geoff Dyer—another great book. I loved everything about it. It’s brilliantly observed, beautifully written, incisive, funny, and filled with stirring truths about life and the value of service.” Billy Collins, the former United States Poet Laureate and author of Aimless Love, said: “Geoff Dyer has managed to do again what he does best: insert himself into an exotic and demanding environment (sometimes, his own flat, but here, the violent wonders of an aircraft carrier) and file a report that mixes empathetic appreciation with dips into brilliant comic deflation. Welcome aboard the edifying and sometimes hilarious ship Dyer.”
Dyer was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2005. In 2014 he was elected as an Honorary Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford.
In the fall (autumn) semester of 2012 he was a visiting professor at the University of Iowa, and in the fall semester of 2013 he was a visiting professor at Columbia University, New York.
Awards and honours
1992: Somerset Maugham Prize winner for But Beautiful
1992: John Llewellyn Rhys Prize shortlisted for But Beautiful
1998: National Book Critics Circle Award finalist in Criticism for Out of Sheer Rage
2003: Lannan Literary Fellowship
2004: W H Smith Best Travel Book Award winner for Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It
2005: Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature
2006: Winner of the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters
2006: International Center of Photography (ICP) Infinity Award for Writing on photography for The Ongoing Moment
2009: GQ Writer of the Year Award
2009: Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Best Comic Novel for Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi
2011: National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism winner for Otherwise Known as the Human Condition
2015: Windham–Campbell Literature Prize (Non-Fiction) valued at $150,000