Where to Start With Geoff Dyer


There are prolific writers, and then there’s Geoff Dyer. Over 30 years, he’s produced more than a dozen books, along with countless essays and reviews for a number of different publications. Yet what sets the English writer apart from many of his contemporaries isn’t his volume as much as his versatility. Dyer’s ability to jump from one topic to the next, and shift effortlessly from nonfiction to fiction, is impressive.

If there’s ever been a month to get into Dyer, it’s this one. May offers three chances to experience his work. First, there’s Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush, Dyer’s account of living aboard an American aircraft carrier; Graywolf, meanwhile, is publishing revised versions of two early Dyer novels, The Colour of Memory and The Search. All three books are out today, and are well worth reading. But if you’re looking for other entrance points into Dyer’s work, here are a few suggestions:

Otherwise Known as the Human Condition

This collection of essays covers everything from literature to travel, and is the quickest and easiest way to begin acquainting yourself with Dyer’s work.


Even if you’ve never seen Andrei Tarkovsky’s classic 1979 film (but you really should), Dyer’s sweeping look at it is one of the best examples of the writer’s ability to weave film criticism into a narrative that’s sure to captivate even non-cinephiles.

The Ongoing Moment

In this examination of the most important photographers of the 20th century, Dyer explores how artists capturing similar banal, everyday subjects developed such unique and masterful styles.

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi

From the Venice Biennale to the spiritual capital of India, Dyer’s entertaining novel about two journalists walking separate paths in life is one of his finest books.

Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D. H. Lawrence

Ten years after publishing his first book, Dyer wanted to write a book about D.H. Lawrence — but he didn’t just want to write a book about D.H. Lawrence. This isn’t a biography, nor is it an analysis of Lawrence’s work; this is Dyer meditating on, and struggling with, his own life through the lens of his relationship to a writer.