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About Helen Garner
Helen Garner was born in 1942 in Geelong, and was educated there and at Melbourne University. She taught in Victorian secondary schools until 1972, when she was dismissed for answering her students’ questions about sex, and had to start writing journalism for a living.
Her first novel, Monkey Grip, came out in 1977, won the 1978 National Book Council Award, and was adapted for film in 1981. Since then she has published novels, short stories, essays, and feature journalism. Her screenplay The Last Days of Chez Nous was filmed in 1990. Garner has won many prizes, among them a Walkley Award for her 1993 article about the murder of two-year-old Daniel Valerio. In 1995 she published The First Stone, a controversial account of a Melbourne University sexual harassment case. Joe Cinque’s Consolation (2004) was a non-fiction study of two murder trials in Canberra.
In 2006 Helen Garner received the inaugural Melbourne Prize for Literature. Her most recent novel, The Spare Room (2008), won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Queensland Premier’s Award for Fiction and the Barbara Jefferis Award, and has been translated into many languages.
Helen Garner lives in Melbourne.
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Titles By Helen Garner
A powerful, witty, and taut novel about a complex friendship between two women—one dying, the other called to care for her—from an internationally acclaimed and award-winning author
How much of ourselves must we give up to help a friend in need? Helen has little idea what lies ahead—and what strength she must muster—when she offers her spare room to an old friend, Nicola, who has arrived in the city for cancer treatment. Skeptical of the medical establishment, and placing all her faith in an alternative health center, Nicola is determined to find her own way to deal with her illness, regardless of the advice Helen offers.
In the weeks that follow, Nicola's battle for survival will turn not only her own life upside down but also those of everyone around her. The Spare Room is a magical gem of a book—gripping, moving, and unexpectedly funny—that packs a huge punch, charting a friendship as it is tested by the threat of death.
‘Garner is scrupulous, painstaking, and detailed, with sharp eyes and ears. She is everywhere at once, watching and listening, a recording angel at life’s secular apocalypses...her unillusioned eye makes her clarity compulsive.’
James Wood, New Yorker
Helen Garner visits the morgue, and goes cruising on a Russian ship. She sees women giving birth, and gets the sack for teaching her students about sex. She attends a school dance and a gun show. She writes about dreaming, about turning fifty, and the storm caused by The First Stone. Her story on the murder of the two-year-old Daniel Valerio wins her a Walkley Award.
Garner looks at the world with a shrewd and sympathetic eye. Her non-fiction is always passionate and compelling. True Stories is an extraordinary book, spanning fifty years of work, by one of Australia’s great writers.
Helen Garner writes novels, stories, screenplays and works of non-fiction. In 2006 she received the inaugural Melbourne Prize for Literature, and in 2016 she won the prestigious Windham Campbell Prize for non-fiction and the Western Australian Premier's Book Award. Her most recent book, Everywhere I Look won the 2017 Indie Book Award for Non-Fiction.
‘Her prose is wiry, stark, precise, but to find her equal for the tone of generous humanity one has to call up writers like Isaac Babel and Anton Chekhov.’ Wall Street Journal
‘[Garner’s] writing expresses a hard-won grace. It brings you closer to the world, and shows you how to love it.’
‘Helen Garner is one of Australia’s greatest living writers and her collection of essays, diary entries and stories written over almost 50 years is just the thing for the lover of fine writing. A compilation of three non-fiction collections, True Stories: The Collected Short Non-Fiction covers everything from family, love and marriage, sex and motherhood to travel, writing and criminal trials. Her piercing intellect, fearlessness and compassion shine through in every word.’ Sydney Morning Herald, Can’t-Put-Down Titles for Summer
‘True Stories by Helen Garner—I mean, really. Helen. Helen Garner. Do you hear that sound? It is the sound of glitter cannons exploding in my heart.’ Marieke Hardy, Melbourne Writers Festival Staff Summer Reading List
‘Memoirist, fiction writer, faction writer, journalist? Australian critics and booksellers have stopped trying to pigeonhole Melburnian writer Helen Garner and now just give her prizes…These stories and essays are the work of a natural storyteller, of an unsparing yet sympathetic eye…It’s all wonderful stuff: unstinting honesty, clarity and charm. Dive in.’ North & South
‘This is the power of Garner’s writing. She drills into experience and comes up with such clean, precise distillations of life, once you read them they enter into you. Successive generations of writers have felt the keen influence of her work and for this reason Garner has become part of us all.’ Australian
‘As I leaf through the volumes, having just re-read both of them, I am still brought up short by another revelatory insight of the everyday
NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
A true story of death, grief and the law from the 2019 winner of the Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature.
In October 1997 a clever young law student at ANU made a bizarre plan to murder her devoted boyfriend after a dinner party at their house. Some of the dinner guests-most of them university students-had heard rumours of the plan. Nobody warned Joe Cinque. He died one Sunday, in his own bed, of a massive dose of rohypnol and heroin. His girlfriend and her best friend were charged with murder.
Helen Garner followed the trials in the ACT Supreme Court. Compassionate but unflinching, this is a book about how and why Joe Cinque died. It probes the gap between ethics and the law; examines the helplessness of the courts in the face of what we think of as 'evil'; and explores conscience, culpability, and the battered ideal of duty of care.
It is a masterwork from one of Australia's greatest writers.
Winner of the Ned Kelly Award for Best True Crime 2005
Winner of the ABIA Book of the Year 2004
PRAISE FOR JOE CINQUE'S CONSOLATION
"Garner's book is a writer's profound response to a tragedy and to questions about human responsibility over time as well as at precise moments" The Age
"This is a work of great passion and of countervailing humanity - a book of witness..." Australian Book Review
Helen Garner is one of Australia’s greatest writers. Her short non-fiction has enormous range. Spanning fifteen years of work, Everywhere I Look is a book full of unexpected moments, sudden shafts of light, piercing intuition, flashes of anger and incidental humour. It takes us from backstage at the ballet to the trial of a woman for the murder of her newborn baby. It moves effortlessly from the significance of moving house to the pleasure of re-reading Pride and Prejudice.
Everywhere I Look includes Garner’s famous and controversial essay on the insults of age, her deeply moving tribute to her mother and extracts from her diaries, which have been part of her working life for as long as she has been a writer. Everywhere I Look glows with insight. It is filled with the wisdom of life.
Helen Garner is an award-winning author of novels, stories, screenplays and works of non-fiction. In 2006 she received the inaugural Melbourne Prize for Literature. Her novel The Spare Room, published in 2008, won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Queensland Premier’s Award for Fiction and the Barbara Jefferis Award, and has been translated into many languages.
‘Garner is a charming and courageous writer whose distinctive voice exemplifies the range of what is possible in personal writing.’ Publishers Weekly
‘There’s not a word wasted or out of place. Garner observes, intuits, shares and cares about the lives she writes about like no-one else. Readers will laugh, cry, squirm and gasp and wonder. It’s Garner’s unique gift as a writer, and it’s beautifully realised in Everywhere I Look.’ Books&Publishing
‘[Garner] has a way of describing the world with such wisdom and candour and, sometimes, delight, that it takes one’s breath away…at least, it does mine. Her observations about life are refreshing in their honesty…This is a fine collection that offers many delights to the reader.’ Readings
‘Similar to a hike, the book is best enjoyed without straining to finish it. It’s full of moments to pause and reflect. More importantly, it stirs up that addictive, expansive feeling only the best books can achieve: that you have reached the final page changed, perhaps even a better and more thoughtful person from having travelled alongside Garner’s observations for a time.’ Daily Review
‘Garner’s prose is so very pleasant to read—dry, relaxed sentences that calmly reach out towards loveliness…[Her] willingness to look at and truly see the failures of human behaviour, in herself no less than in others, that lends her work its power.’ Guardian
‘It is a rich, beautiful book by a poet of the everyday, a sheer master of prose. Give it to your grandmother, give it to your tweeting girlfriend. Give it to any man or woman who understands the magic of language. It will hurl them into great gulfs of pleasure, of turmoil and understanding and joy.’ Australian
‘Garner’s style celebrates and enacts containment and minimalism…Its tenderness and brutality cultivate fruitful and interesting kitchen table conversations spanning the grace and indignity of being “all too human.”’ Age/Sydney Morning Herald
‘[Garner’s] writing expresses a hard-won grace.
Two novellas about the deep connections we forge with the people we love, and the pain of breaking those connections.
In Honour, Kathleen and Frank are amicably separated, in contact through shared parenting of their young daughter, Flo. But when Frank finds a new partner and wants a divorce, Kathleen is hurt. And Flo can’t understand why they all can’t live together.
In Other People’s Children, Ruth and Scotty live in a big share house that’s breaking up. Scotty is trying to hold on, remembering the early days of telling life stories and laughter and singing—and when the kids were everyone’s kids. But now the bitterness has crept in and their friendship is broken. Ruth is ready to move on—and she’ll take her kids with her.
Helen Garner writes novels, stories, screenplays and works of non-fiction. In 2006 she received the inaugural Melbourne Prize for Literature, and in 2016 she won the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize for non-fiction and the Western Australian Premier’s Book Award. Her book of essays Everywhere I Look won the 2017 Indie Book Award for Non-Fiction.
‘Garner is scrupulous, painstaking, and detailed, with sharp eyes and ears. She is everywhere at once, watching and listening, a recording angel at life’s secular apocalypses…her unillusioned eye makes her clarity compulsive.’ James Wood, New Yorker
‘She drills into experience and comes up with such clean, precise distillations of life, once you read them they enter into you. Successive generations of writers have felt the keen influence of her work and for this reason Garner has become part of us all.’ Weekend Australian
‘Helen Garner’s collections of fiction and non-fiction corroborate her reputation as a great stylist and a great witness.’ Peter Craven, Australian
'Helen Garner writes the best sentences in Australia.' Bulletin
Janet is a skeptic, a journalist; Maxine revels in New Age fantasies; and Ray, a drifter, is a born-again Christian. The common ground is the house they share. But their fragile domestic balance is about to explode amid the smashing of ukeleles, an unexpected ascension of an angel, and a sudden shower of jonquils.
Introduction by Ramona Koval.
Helen Garner was born in 1942 in Geelong, and was educated there and at Melbourne University. Her first novel, Monkey Grip, came out in 1977, won the 1978 National Book Council Award, and was adapted for film in 1981. Since then she has published novels, short stories, essays, and feature journalism. In 2006 Helen Garner received the inaugural Melbourne Prize for Literature.
Ramona Koval is a writer, journalist and broadcaster. She is the editor of Best Australian Essays and for many years was the presenter of ABC Radio National’s The Book Show. Her most recent book was Speaking Volumes: Conversations with Remarkable Writers, a collection of her international literary interviews.
'No one writes these reports from the suburban front-line with quite the passion, the abrupt insights and kitchen table candour of Helen Garner.' Robert Dessaix
Economic of style, influenced by the great nineteenth-century Russian novelists, Barbara Baynton's short-story collection presents the Australian bush as dangerous and isolating for the women who inhabit it.
The terror Baynton evokes,' Helen Garner writes in her introduction to the book, 'is elemental, sexual, unabashedly female.'
The Chosen Vessel
Barbara Baynton was born in Scone, New South Wales. In the 1890s Baynton began writing short stories, poetry and articles for the Bulletin. Her first tale, 'The Tramp', was published in 1896. After failing to find an Australian publisher for her collection of short stories, she visited London and in 1902 Duckworth published Bush Studies. Human Toll, a novel, appeared in 1907. A successful businesswoman and renowned socialite, Baynton spent her later year in Melbourne, dying in 1929.
'So precise, so complete, with such insight into detail and such force of statement, it ranks with the masterpieces of realism in any language.' Bulletin