Search - List of Books by David Foster
David Foster (born 1944) is a contemporary Australian novelist, poet and writer of non-fiction.
Total Books: 123
He was born in Katoomba, New South Wales and grew up in the Blue Mountains. He studied science at University of Sydney and obtained a doctorate in biological inorganic chemistry at Australian National University. He undertook postdoctoral studies at the Institute for Cancer Research at the University of Pennsylvania. He has worked as a research scientist, truck driver, postie and on a prawn trawler as well as writing. The subjects of his novels range from rock music to ancient mythology, with some characters like D'Arcy D'Oliveres, the comic post-man of several novels, taking something from his previous employment. He has been a University of New South Wales Literary Fellow.
Four of Foster’s novels have won major literary awards in Australia: his first, The Pure Land (1974), shared the first Age Book of the Year Award (with volume three of Manning Clark’s A History of Australia) in 1975; his second, Moonlite (1981), was the National Book Council Book of the Year for 1981; The Glade Within the Grove (1996) won the Miles Franklin Award in 1997; and In the New Country (1999) was the inaugural Brisbane Courier-Mail Book of the Year in 1999. Foster’s novels have attracted the admiration of many other writers and critics, including Patrick White, Geoffrey Dutton, Randolph Stow, Annie Proulx and Rodney Hall, and his contribution to Australian writing has been recognised by several Australia Council grants and a prestigious ‘Keating’ Creative Fellowship in 1991.
Foster writes in an Australian tradition of idiosyncratic satire and comedy that may be traced through the work of Joseph Furphy, Miles Franklin, Xavier Herbert and David Ireland. His novels are the most wide-ranging and fearless of the Australian novels that have contributed to the late twentieth-century re-examination of Western ideologies and the literary forms in which they are expressed.
Despite the originality and importance of his fiction, Foster’s writing is relatively unknown beyond Australia, and in Australia not much beyond a group of loyal readers. He has never acquired the international following of contemporaries such as Peter Carey or David Malouf, or the Australian readerships of Helen Garner or Elizabeth Jolley.
While a degree of critical neglect may account for part of this situation, there are other clear reasons for Foster’s lack of fame. Firstly, he is a satirist; his writing sets itself deliberately against the favourite beliefs of the educated readers who are most likely to read it. His work is opinionated, misanthropic, obsessive and sometimes tedious. Secondly, he is a committed modernist, pursuing linguistic experiment and convinced that writing remains, at least partly, an improvisatory performance. Thirdly, his writing mixes genres, modes and language registers; his work combines low humour and high cultural seriousness. Foster is a novelist of ideas rather than character; readers cannot slip into sympathetic identification with his characters because they exist to express ideas rather than individual psychologies. One could go on to list Foster’s toughness of mind and his spiritual obsessions, as if they were negatives, but the qualities that make Foster difficult are, of course, also those that make his books rewarding to read.