Corballis, Tim

Corballis, Tim


Primary publisher
Te Herenga Waka University Press

In Brief

Tim Corballis is a Wellington-based writer and lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington. He has published a number of novels and essays, and his work has featured in publications, journals and anthologies. He has received major awards and prizes for his writing, with essays like ‘Winter’ winning the Landfall Essay Competition in 2013. Corballis has been the recipient for a variety of residencies, including the 2003 Randell Cottage Writers Trust Residency, the 2005 Creative New Zealand Berlin Writer’s Residency and most recently the 2015 Victoria University of Wellington Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence. His fiction deals with history, memory and politics; recently entering speculative fiction with his latest publication Our Future is in the Air.


Corballis, Tim (1971 - ) is a fiction writer. He was born in Montreal and lived there until 1977, when he came to live in New Zealand. He lived first in Auckland, and then Dunedin before settling in Wellington. He has attended both the University of Auckland and Victoria University of Wellington. It was at Victoria University that Corballis completed Bill Manhire’s Creative Writing Program, now The International Institute of Modern Letters. In 2000, he was awarded the Schaeffer Fellowship through the Institute of Modern Letters, which allowed him to study at the Iowa Writers' Workshop in the US. At the end of the course, Corballis received the Adam Prize in Creative Writing for his first book Below, published in 2001 by Victoria University Press.

Anna Jackson, writing for the Waikato Times, describes Below as “a novel about space, and form, it is beautifully constructed, divided into just five long parts; like movements in a piece of music.” Gavin McLean, in the Otago Daily Times, writes that “by evoking the fear and wonder of the underground… by drawing comparisons between its depths, twists and turns and the distances between what people say and do, Corballis has created a powerful and convincing suspense story that merits a wide readership.”

In his second book, Measurement (Victoria University Press, 2002), the protagonist Antony travels south after the death of his sister, missing the funeral and leaving behind his partner and child, and accompanied only by his well-thumbed copy of the philosophical text, Measurement. This beautifully written novel is a moving meditation on the intricate relationship between life and memory.

In 2003, Corballis was the Randell Cottage Writers Trust Resident. The six month residency is held in the historic Randell Cottage situated in Thorndon, widely known as the literary hub of Wellington.

Tim Corballis was also awarded the 2005 Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers’ Residency. He took up the eleven-month residency in August of the same year. While in Berlin, Corballis researched and worked on his fourth novel, comprising three thematically linked novellas, one of which is set in Europe and partly in Berlin. Corballis then went on to complete a PhD at the University of Auckland on aesthetic theory.

The Fossil Pits (2005) was published by Victoria University Press. The novel tells the story of Walter Mantells 1848 journey down the east coast of the South Island, to set aside reserves for Ngai Tahu within a large block purchased by the government. The novel is told in counterpoint with a modern woman’s very different story of violence on a South Island farm.

Corballis’ book R.H.I. was published in 2015 (Victoria University Press). R.H.I. is a volume of two formally innovative novellas, based on the lives of early British psychoanalyst Joan Riviere (Sigmund Freud’s earliest translator) and Hermann Henselmann, a German architect renowned for many of the post-war buildings of the German Democratic Republic. Sue Wootton from Takahē describes it as “a richly satisfying book: great ingredients, beautifully distilled, exceptionally well-matured. Sip, savour, enjoy. It tingles right through. It’s all pleasure.”

His most recent publication, Our Future is in the Air (Victoria University Press, 2017) is a captivating speculative fiction novel set in 1970s Wellington after the invention of time travel sends political, economic and cultural shock waves around the globe.

Tim Corballis lives in Wellington with his partner Ingrid Horrocks and their twin daughters. He works as a lecturer in Science and Society at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington.


Updated March 2022.