1971/1972 (age 46–47)|
University of Sussex|
University of East Anglia
Orange Award for New Writers |
Betty Trask Award
deciBel Writer of the Year award
Evans has written three full-length novels. Her first novel, 26a, published in 2005, won the Orange Award for New Writers, the Betty Trask Award and the deciBel Writer of the Year award. According to Diriye Osman in the Huffington Post: "Here was a Bildungsroman of such daring and sustained elegance that it felt like a gorgeous dance of a novel. In many ways, it is apropos that this book which focused on the secret bond that exists between twins was followed in 2009 by the equally masterful The Wonder, a novel rooted in the world of dance."
Background and education
Evans is the daughter of a Nigerian mother and an English father. She was born and grew up in Neasden, north-west London, with her parents and five sisters, one of whom was her twin. She also spent part of her childhood in Lagos, Nigeria.
She completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. At the age of 25 she became a journalist. She contributed human-interest features and art criticism to different magazines, journals and newspapers in the UK; published interviews to celebrities; worked as an editor for Pride Magazine and the literary journal Calabash.
Her first novel, 26a, "a Bildungsroman that centers its storyline on the growing process of a pair of identical twins of Nigerian-British origin, Georgia and Bessi" growing up in Neasden, was published in 2005 to wide critical acclaim and has since been translated into 12 languages. It was shortlisted in the first novel category for both the Whitbread Book Award and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and was the inaugural winner of the Orange Award for New Writers. Literary critic Maya Jaggi said in The Guardian of 26a: "The writing is both mature and freshly perceptive, creating not only a warmly funny novel of a Neasden childhood [. . .] but a haunting account of the loss of innocence and mental disintegration." Carol Birch, writing in The Independent, said of 26a that "Evans writes with tremendous verve and dash. Her ear for dialogue is superb, and she has wit and sharp perception" and though she has her criticisms, concludes that Evans "has produced a consistently readable book filled with likeable characters: a study of loss that has great heart and humour."
Evans' second novel, The Wonder (2009), explores the world of dancing. Maggie Gee, writing in The Independent, called it "a serious work of art, with sentences like ribbons of silk winding around a skeleton of haunting imagery.. . . The Wonder′s most central achievement is to explore what art means in human life. [. . .] This second novel, both powerful and delicate, lacking in linear plot but rich in the poetry of human observation, proves that Evans has what she calls 'the watch-me, the grace note' that marks a true artist."
Her third novel, Ordinary People, is a portrait of family life for two black couples in their 30s in South London in a year bookended by the election of Barack Obama and the death of Michael Jackson.
As well as writing fiction, Evans reviews books for the national press, and teaches courses and workshops on journalism and creative writing at venues that have included the Arvon Foundation and Royal Holloway College. She is a patron of the SI Leeds Literary Prize for unpublished fiction by Black and Asian women in the UK. She is also a 2014–16 Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the London College of Fashion and a 2016–17 Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Kent.
- 26a, London: Chatto & Windus, 2005, ISBN 978-0-7011-7888-8
- The Wonder, London: Chatto & Windus, 2009, ISBN 978-0-7011-7797-3
- Ordinary People, London: Chatto & Windus, 2018, ISBN 978-1784742157
- "Journey Home", in Newland, Courttia; Kadija George (2000), IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain, London: Hamish Hamilton, ISBN 978-0-241-14074-1.
- "The Beginning", in McCarthy, Karen (2003), Kin: new fiction by black and Asian women, London: Serpent's Tail, ISBN 978-1-85242-852-5.
- "Another Saturday Night (Sam Cooke, 1963)", in Too Much Too Young: The Book Slam Annual Vol. II, London: Book Slam Productions, 2012, ISBN 978-1-908615-58-9.
- 2005: Winner, Orange Award for New Writers, for 26a.
- 2005: Betty Trask Award, Society of Authors, for 26a.
- 2005: Longlist, Guardian First Book Award, for 26a.
- 2005: Shortlist, First Novel category, Whitbread Book Awards, for 26a.
- 2006: Shortlist, Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Best First Book category, for 26a.
- 2006: Winner, deciBel Writer of the Year award, British Book Awards, for 26a.
- Saner, Emine (25 April 2005). "Don't call me the new Zadie". Evening Standard. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
- Jaggi, Maya (22 August 2009). "The Wonder by Diana Evans". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- "The Betty Trask Prizes and Awards". Society of Authors. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- Crown, Sarah (30 March 2006). "Boy wizard beats chef to win book of the year". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- Diriye Osman, "The Delicate Lyricism of Diana Evans", Huffington Post, 13 January 2015.
- "Diana Evans". Random House. Archived from the original on 27 August 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- Shilling, Jane (7 August 2009). "The Wonder by Diana Evans: review". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- Allardice, Lisa (19 March 2018). "Diana Evans: 'It wasn't until my twin passed away that I had a really important story that I wanted to tell'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
- Pérez-Fernández, Irene (2013). "Embodying 'twoness in oneness' in Diana Evans's 26a". Journal of Postcolonial Writing. 49: 291–302. doi:10.1080/17449855.2012.681218.
- "Biography" Archived 27 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine., Diana Evans website.
- "Diana Evans: Novelist, Short-story writer, Non-fiction writer", Royal Literary Fund.
- Jaggi, Maya (28 May 2005). "Two into one". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- Carol Birch (25 March 2005). "26A by Diana Evans". London: The Independent. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- Gee, Maggie (4 September 2009). "The Wonder, By Diana Evans". London: The Independent. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- Beckerman, Hannah (25 March 2018). "Ordinary People review – a deft portrait of marital angst". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
- Akbar, Arifa (11 April 2018). "Ordinary People by Diana Evans review – magnificence and marital angst". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
- "Diana Evans". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- Patrons Archived 13 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine., SI Leeds Literary Prize.
- "The Guardian First Book Award 2005". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- "Whitbread 2005". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- "Commonwealth Writers' Prize Shortlist Announced". Commonwealth Secretariat. 26 January 2006. Archived from the original on 26 March 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2014.