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ONE OF THE BBC’S 100 NOVELS THAT SHAPED OUR WORLD
In Monkey Grip, Helen Garner charts the lives of a generation. Set in Australia in the late 1970s, this seminal debut novel follows single mother and writer Nora as she navigates the tumultuous cityscape of Melbourne’s bohemian underground, often with her young daughter Gracie in tow.
But when Nora falls in love with the flighty Javo, she becomes snared in the web of a desperate relationship. Nora’s addiction is romantic love; Javo’s is hard drugs. The harder they pull away, the tighter the monkey grip. ‘Smack habit, love habit – what’s the difference?’ Nora asks. ‘They can both kill you.’
When it first published in 1977, Monkey Grip was both a sensation and a lightning rod. Many critics scorned Garner’s gritty depictions of the human body and all its muck, her frankness about sex and drugs and the mess of motherhood. Today, we can see Monkey Grip for what it is: a seminal novel of Australian counterculture that launched the career of one of Australia’s greatest writers.
A W&N Essential
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