Morris Lurie 1938-2014…Alan Gold writes

October 11, 2014 by Alan Gold
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One of the most significant Jewish voices in Australia has been silenced this week.

Morris Lurie

Morris Lurie

Cancer has ended the life and career of the distinguished Australian novelist, Morris Lurie. He died in Melbourne a few days ago, just weeks short of his 76th birthday, leaving a legacy of adult fiction, short stories, essays, children’s novels, plays and comedic writing.

The Jewish community in Australia arguably knows Lurie’s work best from the hilarious works he contributed to the lives of Jewish Australians who had a passion for jazz music, but Aussie children were arguably amongst his biggest and most loyal fans.

Born to Arie and Esther Lurie in Carlton, Melbourne, Lurie was in his late 20’s when his seminal work, Rappaport, was published by Hodder and Stoughton. Thematically akin to James Joyce’s Ulysses, though not stylistically, his first novel centred around a day in the life of a Jewish Australian antique dealer and the antics of his less-than-adult friend, Friedlander, who are trying to adjust to life outside London England, in a society and culture utterly alien to them.  Rappaport has only one suit, which is pink, and Friedlander constantly talks about going to Russia or to become an artist in Europe, neither of which, we understand, will ever come true.

Much of Lurie’s fiction was generated when he left his Melbourne home to travel and live throughout Europe, England and Africa.

So influenced was he by his travels that his subsequent novels, The London Jungle Adventures of Charlie Hope, and Flying Home, were celebrated as seminal Australian novels. Indeed, Flying Home was cited by the National Book Council as one of the ten best Australian books of the decade.

But it was Lurie’s love of the short-story form, and his passion for writing children’s books, which earned him his enduring place as one of Australia’s most innovative, imaginative and enduring novelists.

Vale, Morris.

 

Alan Gold is a novelist, whose latest book is Bloodline, published by Simon & Schuster

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