Monkey Grip (novel)

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Monkey Grip
First edition
Author Helen Garner
Country Australia
Language English
Publisher McPhee Gribble
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 245
ISBN 0-14-004953-3
OCLC 11950836
823 19
LC Class PR9619.3.G3 M6 1984
Followed by Honour & Other People's Children

Monkey Grip (1977) is a novel by Australian writer Helen Garner, her first published book. It initially received a mixed critical reception, but has now become accepted as a classic of modern Australian literature. A film based on the novel, also titled Monkey Grip, was released in 1982.

Plot summary[edit]

The novel is set in Melbourne in the mid 1970s. Nora is a single parent with a stable job as a teacher, but she lives in an inner-city shared house, part of a bohemia of students, musicians, and actors ...and junkies. Nora falls in love with Javo, an actor and a junkie. She drifts away from him, he drifts away from her. The harder they pull away from each other, the tighter the monkey grip.[1]


Kerryn Goldsworthy writes that almost all of Garner's fiction addresses "the relationship between sexual behaviour and social organisation; the anarchic nature of desire and the orderly face of the institution of 'family'".[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Monkey Grip initially met with a mixed reception.[3] It is now recognised as a classic of modern Australian literature.[4]

Movie adaptation[edit]

In 1982, the novel was adapted to the film Monkey Grip directed by Ken Cameron from his own screenplay. The lead actors were Noni Hazlehurst and Colin Friels.[5]


  1. ^ Perry Middlemiss (1 May 2002). "Monkey Grip Helen Garner 1977". Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
  2. ^ Goldsworthy, Kerryn (1996) Australian Writers: Helen Garner, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, p. 28
  3. ^ Goldsworthy (1996) p. 1
  4. ^ Featured Modern Classics at Penguin Classics
  5. ^ Monkey Grip at the Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]