Michelle de Kretser
Michelle de Kretser, Geography & History, 2013
by Weng-Ho Chong
synthetic polymer paint, charcoal, pastel and conté on linen
support: 198.5 x 101.5 cm
Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra Gift of Michelle de Kretser Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2015
Michelle de Kretser (b. 1957), author, came to Melbourne with her Sinhalese Dutch parents in 1972. The once-prosperous family lived in reduced circumstances, but she attended a multi-cultural school in Elwood. She took her master’s degree in literature in Paris and began a PhD at the University of Melbourne, where she co-founded a postgraduate journal, Antithesis. Abandoning her doctorate, she was employed by Lonely Planet, where she worked for a decade on guidebooks; she founded the company’s Paris office. Her first novel, The Rose Grower, was published in 1999. The Hamilton Case was followed by The Lost Dog, which won the 2008 NSW Premier’s Book of the Year Award and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize for Fiction the same year. In 2009 de Kretser moved to Sydney with her partner and dogs. Her fourth novel, Questions of Travel (2012) was widely reviewed in Australia, the UK and the USA. It won the Miles Franklin Literary Award and the Prime Minister’s Award for Fiction in 2013, and at the 2014 New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards it was named Book of the Year, won the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction and shared the Multicultural Award. De Kretser’s latest release is the novella Springtime (2014), a ghost story set in Sydney.