Angela Davis-Gardner was raised in Greensboro, North Carolina. She attended Duke University (B.A. in English, Phi Beta Kappa), where she studied with the charismatic teacher of creative writing and Elizabethan literature William Blackburn. At the University of N.C. at Greensboro, where she earned her Master of Fine Arts, her mentors were Peter Taylor, Robert Watson, and Randall Jarrell.
Her first teaching job, at Tsuda College in Tokyo, Japan, changed the course of her writing. Two of her books, including her most recent, Butterfly’s Child ( Dial Press, March 2011) and Plum Wine (University of Wisconsin Press, 2006, Dial Press 2007) had their inception in her life-long interest in Japanese people and culture. Plum Wine was named a Notable Novel by the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Prize for its contribution to the understanding between East and West.
Her dominant interest in the complexities of family relationships unites her work, whether set in Nova Scotia, North Carolina, or Japan.
Felice (Random House, 1981, Dial Press, 2007) is a story about an orphaned girl growing up in a Catholic convent in Nova Scotia. This first novel received critical praise from Mary Gordon in the New York Times, and from Carolyn See in a front-page review in the Los Angeles Times. Other major newspapers and magazines, including The New Yorker and The Atlantic, also reviewed it favorably. A Book-of-the Month Club selection, Felice has twice been published in French editions (1984 and 1993). In 2000, it was transformed into an opera by composer Benton Hess (Director of Musical Theatre, Eastman School of Music).
Her second novel, Forms of Shelter (Ticknor and Fields, 1991 Dial Press, 2007) is a story of a woman not wholly unlike the author who grew up in a complicated family in North Carolina; it was also a critical success in the U.S. and in France where it sold 60,000 copies in paperback). A selection of the Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Clubs, it won the Sir Walter Award in 1991 for the best novel published by a North Carolinian in that year.
In her third novel, Plum Wine, Davis-Gardner told what Donna Seaman in a starred Booklist review called “a ravishing tale” about a love affair between an American woman and a Japanese man who is a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing. A favorite of book clubs, Plum Wine was a BookSense Pick and a best seller in paperback. It was featured on NPR by Alan Cheuse in a review and in a reading from the book.
Butterfly’s Child, which was supported grants from The Japan Foundation and The North Carolina Arts Council, has garnered exceptional early praise, including a prediction in the Library Journal that it will appeal not just to “fans of Davis-Gardner’s previous work or fans of Japanese American fiction….this is the type of novel many readers will want to finish in one sitting.”
A professor emerita at North Carolina State University, Angela Davis-Gardner has won more than thirty awards for her teaching and writing. She has also taught at Meredith College, UNC- Chapel Hill, and Guilford College. In Spring 2006, she was William Blackburn Writer in Residence at Duke University.
She has also worked as a journalist and editor. During a brief sojourn in Chicago, she worked at Ebony and Playboy Magazines, and developed curricula for a correspondence school that advertised on matchbook covers.
She has one son, Heath, and lives in Raleigh, N.C. with her incorrigible dog Trevor. Her hobbies are gardening and listening to music, from Chuck Berry to Beethoven.