A forthright investigation of human frailty and emotion with a plot that keeps you in its thrall until the last word.

Greer Gordon lives in Italy with Mischa Svoboda, a driven Czech-born painter with a booming international reputation. She and Mischa met in the 1970s, when his debut show at the small Melbourne art gallery where Greer then worked created a sensation. He was unknown at the time, a recently arrived refugee from Prague. Their explosive love affair caused Greer to abandon her husband, job and autocratic boss Verity, sever all contact with home and embark on a nomadic life with Mischa.

Twenty-five years later, Tony, a young American art critic, has been researching a biography of Mischa and arrives in the small Italian hilltop community where they now live. Greer is consumed by anxiety, fearing ‘the biographer’ may have unearthed something that happened as a consequence of her meeting Mischa, a buried secret she had intended to write out of her life story. Greer and Tony play out a gripping cat-and-mouse game in which she tries to glean who he has spoken to and what, if anything, he knows, while he lets drop, with calculated casualness, graded snippets of information designed to keep her guessing.

It becomes clear that Tony is manipulating a dramatic outcome for the purposes of his story. It will be an investigative read in which the reader discovers the facts as the biographer-detective unravels them. The biographer intends to make his name with this book.

As her hand is forced, Greer embarks on a tense journey of her own. In revisiting the past from the perspective of the present, through Tony’s artful interrogations and her own diary, she is compelled to put her youthful self on trial. In the process she makes a life-changing discovery.


“Duigan’s novel is a gripping study of the duel between the woman with a secret and the biographer who senses her fear. Beautifully paced, and even more sinister for its decorous setting, THE BIOGRAPHER offers the elements of a detective story and a debate on biography’s methods and ethics in a sympathetically drawn human situation.”
Brenda Niall, The Age

“Her vocabulary is adriotly chosen, her sentences beautifully balanced, her minor characters vividly sketched.”
Judith Armstrong, Australian Book Review

“…a clear light on the ruthless habits of biography. Marvellous.”
Drusilla Modjeska

“The backgrounds have a physical richness, and the portrayal of artistic life and conflicts is convincingly achieved.”
Christopher Koch

Published by Random House Vintage 2008
ISBN: 9781741667134