Literature

Helen Garner the Stylist

The judges’ report for Helen Garner’s Melbourne Prize for Literature in November 2006, awarded for her entire body of work to that date, predictably called Garner “one of Australia’s greatest contemporary […] prose stylists”. I say “predictably” not because I predicted this (although I did) but because Garner’s reputation as a stylist has become a cliché to rank with Patrick White’s “genius” and Robert Manne’s reputation as our “foremost public intellectual”. Christos Tsiolkas won a prize alongside Garner, but no mention was made of his prose style, not because the judges thought Dead Europe badly written (they wouldn’t have given…

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