Alexander Buzo was born in Sydney, the capital of the state of New South Wales, on July 23, 1944, the son of an Albanian-born, American-educated civil-engineer father and an Australian mother. Buzo spent his childhood in Armidale, an inland town in New South Wales, near the border between New South Wales and Queensland, an area devoted primarily to the raising of sheep. Buzo attended primary school in Armidale and high school at the International School in Geneva, Switzerland. After completing high school, he returned to Australia. He was graduated from the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
Buzo firmly committed himself to earning a living as a writer and succeeded in doing so—no mean feat in Australia. Producing plays almost annually between 1969 and 1989, he achieved world renown as a dramatist. His plays reflect many of his personal beliefs. He detests bullies and cowards and satirizes them mercilessly, as demonstrated by his portrayal of the central character of Norm in Norm and Ahmed and later in Normie and Tuan; he is sympathetic to women’s attempts to achieve equality and to make a mark in the traditionally male-chauvinist society of Australia; and, finally, he deplores the insularity of Australia and Australians, and his writings reflect his attempts to change his people’s view of themselves.
Between 1978 and 2000, Buzo was writer-in-residence at six institutions, ranging from Sydney Teachers College to the University of Indonesia in Jakarta. During one of these residencies, at James Cook University in Townsville, he completed two books, the novel Prue Flies North (1991) and The Young Person’s Guide to the Theatre (1998). He notes in an article written for The Age (Melbourne, May 28, 2001), “As the theatre had moved more into the realm of daytime television—which made a kind of sense because its audience worked when Oprah [Winfrey] was on—I had gravitated to writing books more than plays.” Buzo also published Kiwese: A Guide, a Dictionary, a Shearing of Unsights (1994), a guide to New Zealand’s spoken English; The Longest Game: A Collection of the Best Cricket Writing from Alexander to Zavos, from the Gabba to the Yabba (1990), a book on cricket that he edited with Jamie Grant; and Glancing Blows: Life and Language in Australia (1987), a collection of prose pieces, essays, and journalism.