Janette Turner Hospital left Melbourne in 1950 when her family moved to Brisbane. Here she was educated at state schools and the University of Queensland, completing a Bachelor of Arts in 1965. She taught for some time in North Queensland, then, after marrying Clifford Hospital, a Methodist minister, she spent two years in Boston, USA, where her husband completed a PhD at Harvard University and she cared for their children while working at the university library. In 1971 they moved to Ontario, Canada, where Hospital completed an MA in medieval literature and taught at schools, penitentiaries, colleges and Queen's University.
In 1978 Hospital published her first short story in the Atlantic Monthly. Four years later she was awarded first prize for magazine fiction from the Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Letters, and her first novel, The Ivory Swing, won the prestigious Canadian Seal Award. Since then, her work has attracted a number of Canadian and Australian prizes. Hospital has been writer-in-residence at many universities in Australia, the USA and Canada. In 1999, she was invited to the University of South Carolina to take up a Chair as Carolina Distinguished Professor of English. Hospital was awarded an honorary doctorate from The University of Queensland in 2003.
Hospital's frequent geographical and cultural movements have influenced much of her fiction. This is often seen in the variety of dislocations experienced by her characters, especially the struggle of women to move within and between social, cultural and religious environments. These themes are often explored with post-modern narrative devices, emphasising the indeterminacy experienced in contemporary life. The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature asserts that many of her short stories 'reflect on incorrigible human predatoriness which frequently selects women as its victims, although ... her characters often show a resilient or stoic strength which redeems the otherwise bleak vision'.
''So then, here it is. The unadorned un-self-flattering gospel, the never-before-told story our intricately intertwined lives ... Listen: I know things that no one else knows. Trust me. ' Manhattan, 1996: the trial of the Vanderbilt claimant is finally coming to an end. The case - long, complex, riven with unknowns, attracting huge media and social interest - has been seeking to establish whether or not a certain man is the son of the fabulously wealthy and well-connected Vanderbilt family. The son went missing, presumed dead, while serving in the Vietnam war. There is huge fortune, prestige and status at stake. But is the man - a handsome cattle farmer from Queensland - really the Vanderbilt heir? And if so, why does he seem so reluctant to be found? From one of our foremost novelists, The Claimant is a compelling and ravishingly readable novel about the fluid, shifting and ultimately elusive nature of identity and the reasons why people seek to change their names, their identities or their personalities.' (Publication abstract)
Forecast : Turbulence2011selected work short story 'Forecast Turbulence is a breathtaking and exquisitely lyrical collection of nine short stories and one memoir piece from internationally acclaimed Australian author Janette Turner Hospital. Featuring a compelling and enigmatic cast of characters - a loner obsessed with the beautiful face of a neighbour; a militant religious cult; the mute skipper of a whale-watching boat; a teenager who hasn't set eyes on his father since the breakdown of his parents' marriage; the daughters of a charming family man (and paedophile); a child and his grandmother sitting out a hurricane; two vulnerable girls visiting their stepfathers in prison; a young woman deeply ashamed of what her father has become; and the grief-stricken parents of an abducted child - Turner Hospital sensitively weaves their stories of raw emotion, heartbreaking vulnerability and incredible resolve, revealing their quest to hold their centres and maintain equilibrium in a turbulent and uncertain world.' (From the publisher's website.)
'In this compelling reimagining of the Orpheus story, Leela May travels into an underworld of kidnapping, torture and despair in search of her lover, Mishka.
'Leela is a mathematical genius who escaped her hardscrabble Southern home town to study in Boston. It's there that she meets a young Australian musician, Mishka. From the moment she first hears him play, busking in a subway, his music grips her, and they quickly become lovers.
'Then one day Leela is picked up off the street and taken to an interrogation centre somewhere outside the city. There has been an 'incident', an explosion on the underground; terrorists are suspected, security is high. And her old childhood friend Cobb is conducting a very questionable interrogation. Over the years Cobb has never forgotten Leela and the secrets she knows.
'Now he reveals to her that Mishka may not be all he seems. That there may be more to him than growing up in the Daintree rainforest in northern Queensland in an eccentric musical family. Leela has already discovered on her own account that some nights when Mishka claims to be at the music lab are actually spent at a cafe. A cafe, Cobb tells her, known to be a terrorist contact point.