Diana Evans Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Diana Evans
Photo by Charles Hopkinson

Diana Evans

An interview with Diana Evans

Diana Evans discusses her first novel, 26a, set partly in the UK and partly in Nigeria, which explores our individual search for identity.

Q: To what degree is 26a an autobiographical novel?
A: It was inspired by a personal bereavement so in that sense it is autobiographical; and I did draw from memories and sensations from my own childhood. But I would be uncomfortable calling it a portrait or a blueprint of my life. When you are using autobiographical material in fiction, it is absolutely necessary that you distance yourself enough from the subject so that it becomes something of its own, nothing to do with you, so that the imagination can take flight and all kinds of unexpected twists and turns of plot and character come into play. This is what happened with 26a.

Q: 26a shares some qualities with magical realist fiction. Have you been influenced by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Salman Rushdie, Isabel Allende, and other magical realist writers? Or does this quality flow into your work more from African folk-tales?
A: I would not attribute either source to the 'magic realist' aspects of the novel. It's simply the way I write. I love the supernatural, and I am enthralled by writing that dares to venture into the impossible or fantastic. It's great fun and takes the writer and the reader into another world, which is what fiction should do. However I do have an interest in African folk-tales; even an unwitting, innate knowledge of them, which is to do with being half Nigerian.

Q: 26a is, in many ways, about the search for identity—who we are as separate beings and who we are in our connections to others. What interests you about this search?
A: I am very interested, simply, in the human struggle to be who we are, who we really are. There are so many expectations placed upon us, so many restricting places in which we are supposed to place ourselves in order to function in the world. There is often a struggle to hold on to who we are through all of this; either we lose the struggle and we are lost, almost deadened, or we simply don't survive at all. I'm very interested in this difficult intersection, and how it manifests in people's lives.

Q: Why did you decide to move the action of 26a from London to Nigeria and back again?
A: I wanted to see what might happen to Georgia and Bessi in another place, their mother's homeland. I suppose I wanted to bring to life certain aspects of a mixed race childhood. And at that point in the novel I needed something huge to happen, a turning point that would change the twins forever. I thoroughly enjoyed writing the Nigeria section.

Q: What were the most pleasurable and most challenging aspects of writing your first novel?
A: The most challenging was definitely in conquering fear, facing this great daunting task of writing a novel and making it the best it could possibly be. The most pleasurable, ironically, was actually conquering that fear, entering into the dark hazy world of the book, and letting myself go, swim around, float, let my imagination run wild. I loved that feeling of absolute freedom. It was incredibly powerful.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Dog Flowers
    Dog Flowers
    by Danielle Geller
    In Dog Flowers, Danielle Geller tells us what is wrong with her family: heavy drinking, abandonment,...
  • Book Jacket: The Sea Gate
    The Sea Gate
    by Jane Johnson
    In Jane Johnson's novel, The Sea Gate, set in England, readers are introduced to Becky, a young ...
  • Book Jacket: Stories from Suffragette City
    Stories from Suffragette City
    by M.J. Rose, Fiona Davis
    Our First Impressions readers were fascinated by the historical fiction from a range of authors ...
  • Book Jacket: The Mystery of Mrs. Christie
    The Mystery of Mrs. Christie
    by Marie Benedict
    The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict, notable author of previous historical fiction such ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Narrowboat Summer
    by Anne Youngson

    From the author of Meet Me at the Museum, a charming novel of second chances.

    Reader Reviews
  • Book Jacket

    At the Edge of the Haight
    by Katherine Seligman

    Winner of the 2019 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Moment of Lift
by Melinda Gates
How can we summon a moment of lift for women? Because when you lift up women, you lift up humanity.
Who Said...

Harvard is the storehouse of knowledge because the freshmen bring so much in and the graduates take so little out.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T M T C, T M T Stay T S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.