David Brooks was born in Canberra but spent his earliest years in Greece and Yugoslavia, where his father was an immigration officer. At the Australian National University (1971-74) he was involved with Canberra Poetry magazine and in hand-press printing (he co-founded Open Door Press).
From 1975-1980, while pursuing his MA and PhD at the University of Toronto, he was overseas editor for New Poetry. His early poetry was published in the U.S. and Canada and he made extensive contacts with poets in both countries, working at different times with Galway Kinnell, Mark Strand, and the Czech Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz.
His first collection of poetry, The Cold Front (1983), was short-listed for the N.S.W. Premier’s Prize and won the Anne Elder Award. His first collection of short fiction, The Book of Sei (1985), was heralded in the National Times as the most impressive debut in Australian short fiction since Peter Carey’s The Fat Man in History. His acclaimed first novel, The House of Balthus (Allen & Unwin, 1995), was short-listed for the National Book Award and his second, The Fern Tattoo (University of Queensland Press), for the 2008 Miles Franklin and Colin Roderick awards. Returning to poetry after an interval of twenty-two years, he has published four further collections, Walking to Point Clear (Brandl & Schlesinger, 2005; short-listed for the Adelaide Festival Prize), Urban Elegies (Island Press, 2007), The Balcony , a collection of love poetry which the Sydney Morning Herald called ‘an electric performance’ (UQP, 2008; shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s and ACT Judith Wright awards), and, in 2015, Open House (UQP, shortlisted for the Judith Wright ‘Calanthe’ award).
In 2008 he also published The Golden Boat, selected poems of Srecko Kosovel (‘the Slovenian Rimbaud’) translated with Bert Pribac (SALT, U.K.), and in 2009 a third novel, The Umbrella Club (UQP; shortlisted for the Christina Stead award). In 2011, he published The Sons of Clovis (also UQP), an extensive re-examination of the Ern Malley Hoax and its place in the long history of French influence in Australian poetry, and in 2012 the acclaimed novella The Conversation (also UQP, shortlisted for the Western Australian Literary Award for Fiction). In early 2016 UQP will publish Napoleon’s Roads, his first collection of short fiction in almost twenty years, and Brandl & Schlesinger will publish Derrida’s Breakfast, a set of three essays on Jacques Derrida and the Animal. David has also edited the Selected Poems and Selected Poetry & Prose of A.D. Hope (1992 and 2000, respectively), and Suddenly Evening, the selected poems of R.F. Brissenden (1993).
A vegan and animal rights activist, he spends a small part of each year in a village in Istria (he is married to the Slovenian photographer and translator Teja Pribac), and the rest in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. Until early 2013 he taught Australian Literature and directed the graduate writing program at the University of Sydney, to which he is now attached as an Honorary Associate Professor. Since 2000 he has been a co-editor, initially with Noel Rowe and subsequently with Elizabeth McMahon, of the literary journal Southerly. He is the 2015/16 Australia Council Fellow in Fiction.