ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Vintage Publicity, 1745 Broadway, 20th Fl., New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: Fiction writer. Rustenberg Girls' High school, Cape Town, South Africa, teacher of English and history, until 2002; AFDA (film school), Cape Town, part-time narrative and aesthetics teacher; freelance journalist.
AWARDS, HONORS: Commonwealth First Book Award (African region), 2004, for Gardening at Night.
Gardening at Night (novel), Vintage Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Short stories published in various journals; contributor of book reviews to South African Sunday Times; columnist for www.exchange.com.
SIDELIGHTS: In her debut novel, Gardening at Night, Diane Awerbuck describes growing up in a small South African mining town so hot that to water plants during the day would cause them to boil. The largely autobiographical novel describes Awerbuck's somewhat painful but also comic adolescence, as well as her complicated relationship with her mother, whose brush with breast cancer first inspired her to write the novel. Her "fictional" heroine is, in fact, named Diane Awerbuck. The book also provides an unflinching look at the oppressive aspects of life in a tough town and some of the people who make it more difficult. As she acknowledged to an online interviewer for Exclusive Books, "There are some people who won't talk to me anymore." Interestingly, the racial tensions and the scars of apartheid do not play a large role. As Awerbuck told Sara Bush, an interviewer for the Life Changing Books Web site, "It's not really about raceanymore—but I say that as someone who's benefited greatly from a system that crushed a whole lot of people." Instead, the author conveys a more familiar tale of stunted lives, but also the possibility of escape and the hope of creating a more fulfilling life even in the face of adversity. As Hephzibah Anderson noted in the London Observer, "In many ways, the coming-of-age tale is the perfect debut, playing to the debutante's freshness and flaws, and Awerbuck has turned in a bittersweet example of the genre."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Awerbuck, Diane, Gardening at Night, Vintage Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Observer (London, England), April 27, 2003, Hephzibah Anderson, "Wake up and Smell the African Violets."
Exclusive Books, http://www.exclusivebooks.com/ (August 15, 2005), interview with Awerbuck.
IAfrica.com, http://entertainment.iafrica.com/books/ (August 15, 2005), Liz Black, review of Gardening at Night.
Life Changing Books, http://www.jour.city.ac.uk/books/ (August 15, 2005), Sarah Bush, review of Gardening at Night and interview with Awerbuck.
LitNet Young Voices, http://www.litnet.co.za/youngwriters/ (August 15, 2005), profile of Diane Awerbuck.