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Janette Turner Hospital Biography

(1942– ), The Ivory Swing, The Tiger in the Tiger Pit, Borderline, Charades, The Lost Magician, Dislocations

Australian novelist and short-story writer, born in Melbourne, educated at the University of Queensland. She has travelled widely in America, Europe, and India; since 1971 she has lived mainly in Canada. Among other occupations she has worked as a librarian at Harvard, and as a lecturer in universities in Canada, America, and Australia. Her first novel, The Ivory Swing (1982), is a personal and psychological drama involving a young Canadian woman who finds herself in India accompanying her academic husband on sabbatical. The Tiger in the Tiger Pit (1984) concerns an elderly couple reaching their golden wedding, and focuses on the wife's attempts to draw together the disparate threads of her ever-increasing family. Borderline (1985) skilfully exploits conflicting levels of narration and plot, in reconstructing an international story of differing flights and concealments; Hospital deploys the interrelating tensions of alternative truths to construct a work which traces the borderlines between both political and existential worlds through blending the conventions of thriller and psychological drama. Charades (1988) is the story of an Australian girl, Charade Ryan, travelling the world in search of her lost father; the novel moves between Boston, Toronto, Melbourne, and Queensland, and shifts backwards and forwards in time (from Cook to Quantum Physics). The Lost Magician (1992) continues in the tradition of its predecessors: similarly dense, lyrical, and multi-layered, it investigates, through the intertwined destinies of its protagonists—a Chinese photographer, a self-destructive prostitute, and the idealistic son of a rich judge among others—political corruption in high places and the seething lowlife of contemporary Australia. The stories in Dislocations (1986), set in Queensland, America, and India, all explore disruption of ordinary life, or separation from a known environment. The stories in Isobars (1990), set in different places and times, are linked by isobars of the imagination.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Honest Ulsterman to Douglas Hyde Biography