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Helen Garner Biography

(1942– ), cause célèbre, Monkey Grip, Honour, and Other People's Children

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Richard Furness Biography to Robert Murray Gilchrist Biography

Australian novelist and short-story writer, born in Victoria, educated at the University of Melbourne. Her dismissal from her teaching job in a Melbourne secondary school in 1972, for using explicit language when answering her pupils' questions about sex, became a cause célèbre. She later worked as a journalist, reviewer, and actress, and lived in Paris for a number of years. She achieved immediate success with her first novel, Monkey Grip (1977), which is set in Melbourne during the 1960s and focuses on the relationship between the narrator, Nora, and Javo, a heroin addict. The novel was later filmed. Her other works include two novellas, Honour, and Other People's Children (1980); a novel, The Children's Bach (1984), about the disintegration of a conventional, middle-class marriage; a collection of short stories, Postcards from Surfers (1985), widely acclaimed for its cool portrayal of diverse relationships; and Cosmo Cosmolina (1992), a novella and two linked stories, which make use of magic realism.

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