David Foster

Brief Biography

David Foster was born in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales in 1944. He graduated from the University of Sydney and the Australian National University in Canberra. He worked as a research scientist in the USA and Sydney before taking up full-time writing in 1972.

David Foster won the Miles Franklin Award in 1997 for his novel The Glade Within the Grove.


The Pure Land 1974
The Empathy Experiment 1977
Moonlite 1981
Plumbum 1983
Dog Rock : A Postal Pastoral 1985
The Adventures of Christian Rosy Cross 1986
Testostero 1987
The Pale Blue Crochet Coathanger Cover 1988
Mates of Mars 1991
A Slab of Foster's 1994
The Glade Within the Grove 1996
The Ballad of Erinungarah 1997
The Land Where Stories End 2001

Short Story Collections
North, South, West : Three Novellas 1973
Escape to Reality 1977
Hitting The Wall : Two Novellas 1989

The Fleeing Atalanta 1975

Self Portraits : Fifteen Interviews with Australian Writers Conducted by Hazel de Berg 1991

MATES OF MARS book cover Mates of Mars 1991
Cover photo by Dean Phipps. Art direction/design by Andrew Hoyne

"...the pseudo-ethics of masculinist society explored with vigour and terrifying lucidity...we couldn't hope for better, more original writing" - Rosemary Sorenson, Sydney Morning Herald
"His prose just simply carried me effortlessly...hard to beat as great storytelling, and with densely packed, innovative humour, rich prose and an insightful ending, another fine novel from a master" - Jeff Doyle, Canberra Times
"Foster possesses a keen eye for human folly, the ability to hijack his audience, and a readiness to be mordant and merciless while retaining a unrelenting hold over his readers", - Andrew Peak, Australian Book Review
"a tour de force...Foster's satire is unsparing" - Rob Johnson, Adelaide Advertiser

First Paragraph:

Steve Overton, known from schooldays as Wingnut or Trophyhead because of prominent ears, was servicing his new, or rather, secondhand, Matsanunda wheelchair, when Cyril Jiberan drove up in an antique Alfa Romeo. Hearing the sound of a car pull up, Steve put aside the penetrating oil he'd been applying to his caster fork stem nuts and hauled himself to the window on his elbows. His bulk - he was over 20 stone - had become a nuisance since he'd lost the use of his legs, but luckily he was strong in the upper body. A typical upper body workout for Steve had always included heaps of shoulder work; sets of lateral raises and shrugs, bent-over lateral raises, and for the triceps, cable pushdowns on the Nautilus, as well as dumbbell kickbacks and extensions on the decline bench. Formerly, he'd been a pretty useful squatter as well; sets of full squats at 400 pounds, nothing much for a weightlifter but not bad for a fighting man.

From the Vintage paperback edition, 1996.

Return to Bibliography

THE GLADE WITHIN THE GROVE book cover The Glade Within the Grove 1996
Design Yolande Gray. Cover photograph "Orchestration in Light" (1993) by Olive Cotton

"It is a peculiarity of the genre that a significant novel will always appear to stop the tradition in its tracks. The Glade Within the Grove tempts us to feel that here the work of the novel is done so well that there can be no achievement beyond it." - Times Literary Supplement
"The unusual subject, the rich and complex language, Foster's intelligence and daring imaginaton make this an important and stunningly original novel." - E. Annie Proulx
"An extraordinary achievement. At once comic and bloody, colloquial and erudite, prolix and single-minded, there has been nothing like it since Such is Life." - Rodney Hall
"Here's a novel for those who like their fiction packed, rotund, and fluent without being florid, who relish a snappish turn and tone, plus a writer in utter control conveying a feeling of rampant intellectual energy and sensory delight...I kept postponing its final few pages, wanting to hold the novel's last breath, yet Foster compels the rush to completion. His book is a marvel. It filled me with envy." - Tom Adair, Scotland on Sunday
"The Glade Within the Grove asks the deepest questions, of love and life and where the gods have gone. It is a novel of great importance, by any standards." - Geoffrey Dutton, Australian Book Review
"Foster is one of Australia's boldest and most inventive novelists and The Glade Within the Grove is, in many ways, the novel of our millenial times - and, at its best, a literary marvel." - Helen Daniel, The Age
"Foster's prose is as funny as an overturned lorry-load of laughing gas - and equally disabling. The language of this novel is rich and complex, but never deliberately obscure. There are echoes here of Saul Bellow's Herzog." - Yorkshire Post
"Foster reveals a wonderful mixture of the satiric and the visionary, or of the scabrous and the near-lyrical, that I find exhilarating." - Andrew Reimer, Sydney Morning Herald
"magic realism from the land of Oz...intelligent and intriguing...Foster's brilliant re-creation of his secret landscape is an elegy for a vanished piece of Australia." - The Sunday Times

First Paragraph:

You find some funny stuff in old mailbags. False teeth, British Empire medals. Always worth a look though, you never know when you might happen on a valuable stamp, a five-shilling bridge. As it happens, my vocation lent itself to rummaging through old mailbags. You might even say it was part of the job.

Each mailbag, once it is emptied of mail, is supposed to be inverted before reutilisation, but many a young, long-haired postman finds he has better things to do, apparently. How else to account for those piles of surplus, all-but-uninverted mailbags, often to be found in the corners of rural bike sheds, the careful inversion of which can provide a mature relief postman - who may not wish to spend all his off-duty hours in the pub - with a carefree half-hour.

From the Vintage paperback edition, 1996.

Return to Bibliography

This page and its contents are copyright © 2000-01 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

[Prev] Return to Larrikin Literature Page.

Last modified: May 10, 2001.