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How to End a Story: Diaries 1995–1998

2023 - Shortlisted


Judges' Comments

The third in the series of Helen Garner’s Diaries, How to End a Story is a powerful narrative covering 1995 to 1998, including Garner’s disintegrating relationship with another successful author in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. The personal diary entries combine to explore the broader challenges women face in maintaining independent psychological and physical space for their creative, financial and emotional lives. In How to End a Story, Garner traces her gradual realisation that she was losing herself, her spirit and her writing within the marriage. The journey of self-realisation, through feelings of doubt, self-recrimination, indignation, misery, joy and anger, is expertly narrated. Simultaneously, Garner’s diary entries give rich insights into the complex world of Australia’s writers and artists and their sometimes competitive, sometimes collaborative, but always close-knit communities. 

How to End a Story approaches the pinnacle of the diary form as a literary genre and Garner’s stylistic brilliance shines from every page. It moves effortlessly from the poetic and lyrical to the sharp and succinct — all while maintaining the narrative drive that propels the reader on to discover how the story ends.