Hurrah Helen Garner!


Helen Garner, one of my favourite Australian writers, deserves this hurrah. She writes across genres, and  has just won the prestigious Windham-Campbell prize for non-fiction. When she received an email asking for her telephone number from someone at Yale University, she thought it was a case of spam.

This brings her great validation, as well as $US150, 000 in prize money.  Her novel  Monkey Grip written in 1977 was a unique  commentary on Australian youth culture at the time. Since then, she has written three important non-fiction books. One of them The First Stone (1995) , was part of the university curriculum when I studied Creative Writing at the University of Technology, Sydney in the nineties. It asked controversial questions about sex and power inspired by a 1992 sexual harassment scandal at Ormond College, one of the residential colleges of the University of Melbourne.

The First Stone

Helen Garner

This House of Grief

Her latest book, This House of Grief (2014)  was based on a harrowing court case that focused on a man who drowned his three young sons by driving his car into a dam.

Her latest non-fiction book

 The Judgement

The judges’ citation  stated: “Helen Garner brings acute observations and narrative skill to bear on the conflicts and tragedies of contemporary Australian life”.

 Other Books

Many readers, including this reader, have enjoyed her personal, journal-style, almost confessional writings, in books, such as True Stories, Postcards from Surfers and The Feel of Steel. But even in her fictional novels and non-fiction books, the style is similar, and the narrator comes across as if she is speaking to you, sitting with you in the same room. I particularly enjoyed her The Children’s Bach and Monkey Grip.

Helen Garner is a courageous writer. I’d find the subjects that she chooses to research too harrowing, such as in This House of Grief about a father who causes the deaths of his three young sons, and Joe Cinque’s Consolation, about a similarly tragic  drug deaths story.

For this reason, I say, once again Hurrah Helen Garner!  Read more: Sydney Morning herald

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