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Sometimes There is a Void: Memoirs of an Outsider

Recommended Price 
September 2012
About the book: 

Zanemvula Kizito Gatyeni Mda, better known as Zakes Mda, is an award-winning South African playwright and novelist whose work is published throughout the world. He is also an accomplished artist, a musician, a film maker and a beekeeper. And as a professor of creative writing at Ohio University, he is an internationally acknowledged scholar. But who, really, is this multi-talented man? And how did he come to achieve recognition in so many different creative spheres? Sometimes there is a void, a disarmingly candid account of the life of Zakes Mda, provides us with some answers. In this memoir Mda weaves together past and present to give an intensely personal story of his development in life, in love and in learning, and the events and people who shaped him. Forced to follow his father, PAC 'founding spirit' A P Mda, into exile in Lesotho (then still Basutoland) at the age of fourteen, Zakes initially finds freedom from close parental discipline irresistible and becomes a frequenter of shebeens and an exponent of fast living, but he also becomes politicised during this time. We are given a fascinating insight into the growth and development of both the PAC and the ANC in exile, as well as contemporary social history. Mda's musical and artistic talents develop at an early age, a little ahead of his literary gifts. But his poetry and playwriting soon take precedence, as Mda's early plays win awards and are performed and published in South Africa. On the strength of his published work, Mda is accepted by Ohio University where he earns two master's degrees and, later, a doctorate at the University of Cape Town. His doctoral thesis is published internationally, and he writes his first novel in 1993. Although based in Athens, Ohio, he travels to South Africa regularly to visit the beekeeping collective he founded for the economic empowerment of people living in his former ancestral village in the Eastern Cape and to work with members of the Southern African Multimedia AIDS Trust which he established in Sophia town. He continues to be actively involved in the development of indigenous South African theatre through his work with local playwrights.

Other titles by this author 
About the Author
Zakes Mda is the author of the novels Ways of Dying and The Heart of Redness, among many others. He was born in the Eastern Cape, but spent his early childhood in Soweto, finishing his school education in Lesotho.
He is a prolific writer of novels, plays, poems and articles for academic journals and newspapers, and his writing has been translated into twenty languages. His creative work also includes painting, and theatre and film productions. Mda, whose forebears were exiled from Qumbu to Lesotho after the assassination of Hamilton Hope, is a recipient of South Africa’s Order of Ikhamanga. He is based in Athens, Ohio, where he spends his time writing and teaching.

Photograph credit: Jim Shirey

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