Grunge Lit

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Grunge Lit is an Australian literary genre usually applied to fictional or semi-autobiographical writing concerned with young people living in suburban or inner-city surroundings. The genre characterises itself by examining "gritty, dirty, real existences",[1] where life revolves around a nihilistic pursuit of vices such as sex, drugs and alcohol. It has been described as both a sub-set of Dirty realism and an offshoot of Generation X literature.[2] The genre was first coined in 1995 to capitalise on the success of Andrew McGahan's first novel Praise which had been released in 1991 and became popular with sub-30 year old readers, a previously under-investigated demographic.[1] Since its invention the term Grunge Lit has been retrospectively applied to novels written as early as 1977.[2]

The majority of Grunge Lit works place their subjects within an urban or suburban environment where they explore the relationship between the body and the soul.[3] Often the central characters are disfranchised, lacking drive and determination beyond the desire to satisfy their basic needs. The authors use a confessional style of narration and autobiographical elements to achieve an intimacy with the reader.[2] Although arousing antithetical views on publication, the majority of Grunge Lit books received little critical attention.[3]

Australian authors recognised as having written Grunge Lit include Andrew McGahan[2] whose novel Praise, won the Australian/Vogel Literary Award in 1991, Helen Garner[2] whose novel Monkey Grip won the National Book Council Award in 1978 and Edward Berridge[3] who wrote The Lives of the Saints.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Leishman, Kirsty, 'Australian Grunge Literature and the Conflict between Literary Generations', Journal of Australian Studies, 23.63 (1999), pp. 94–102
  2. ^ a b c d e Vernay, Jean-François, 'Grunge Fiction', The Literary Encyclopedia, 6 November 2008, accessed 9 September 2009
  3. ^ a b c Brooks, Karen, 'Shit Creek: Suburbia, Abjection and Subjectivity in Australian 'Grunge' Fiction', Australian Literary Studies, 18 (1998), pp. 87-100, accessed 10 September 2009