This Australian novel is the journey of two women as their friendship is threatened by death. ‘A perfect novel’ Peter Carey
When Helen offers her spare room to her old friend Nicola, she has little idea of what lies ahead. Nicola has cancer and, sceptical of the medical establishment, is in the city for a course of alternative treatment. She is determined to deal with her illness in her own way, regardless of the advice that Helen can offer.
In the weeks that follow, Nicola’s fight against cancer will turn not only her own life upside down but the lives of everyone around her. Told with humour and honesty, this unforgettable novel charts a friendship as it is tested in the face of death.
“At once artful, gripping and fiercely beautiful … even at the most painful moments Garner maintains a characteristic lightness of touch, a combination of wit and lyricism that is immensely alluring … [an] extraordinary, exhilarating novel [and] a burningly passionate account of the one experience we will all share”
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“A perfect novel, imbued with all Garner’s usual clear-eyed grace but with some other magnificent dimension that hides between the lines of her simple conversational voice. How is it that she can enter this heartbreaking territory - the dying friend who comes to stay - and make it not only bearable, but glorious, and funny? There is no answer except: Helen Garner is a great writer; The Spare Room is a great book”
“Only great fiction demands us to reset our moral compass and look at our value coordinates all over again. The Spare Room achieves this … And yet in a book this spare, written with such grace, Garner introduces in the interstices a calm, precise poetry”
“Exceptional … an unsettling and skilled work that raises important questions about the process of dying and what caring well for the dying requires … So powerful is The Spare Room’s communication of the the triumphs and failures involved in dying … [that] the reader painfully ricochets between the various positions … Somehow as we read we actually become these characters … This extraordinary effect results in an uncomfortable read. Yet it is also an oddly exhilarating book – often funny, and grounded in a kind of ordinariness that is deeply restorative”
“A wise and affecting book”
Helen Garner writes novels, stories, screenplays and works of non-fiction. In 2006 she received the inaugural Melbourne Prize for Literature, and in 2016 she won the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize for non-fiction. Her most recent book, Everywhere I Look, won the 2017 Indie Book Award for Non-Fiction. She lives in Melbourne.