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 inner city suburbs of Melbourne in the mid 1970s. Nora and her young daughter live in a succession of share houses. She is in love with Javo, a heroin addict, who repeatedly drifts out of Nora's life, then back into it again.[1] Di Gribble of McPhee Gribble, the book's first publisher, wrote that the title of the novel referred to both a linking of hands and the monkey on your back of drug addiction.[2]


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'".[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Monkey Grip initially met with a mixed reception.[4] It is now recognised as a classic of modern Australian literature.[5]

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.[6]


  1. ^ Tegan Bennett Daylight (3 November 2012). "A phone call to Helen Garner". The Australian. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  2. ^ Frizell, Helen (13 October 1978). "The year's best books - 1. Helen Garner's Monkey Grip". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  3. ^ Goldsworthy, Kerryn (1996) Australian Writers: Helen Garner, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, p. 28
  4. ^ Goldsworthy (1996) p. 1
  5. ^ Featured Modern Classics at Penguin Classics
  6. ^ Monkey Grip on Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]