Sometimes there is a void, memoirs of an outsider
Sometimes There Is A Void is a remarkable record of the life of awardwinning novelist and playwright Zakes Mda.
Eminently readable, Mda weaves past and present together to give us an intensely personal story of the writer’s development in life, in love and in learning. Forced to follow his father, PAC ‘founding spirit’ A P Mda, into exile in Lesotho (then still Basutoland) at the age of fourteen, Zakes Mda finds freedom from close parental discipline irresistible and becomes a frequenter of shebeens and an exponent of fast living at an early age, although he is
eventually drawn back to wanting a good education above all other things. After many twists and turns, and a few false starts, we follow his journey to Athens, Ohio, where he is now professor of creative writing. Forthright almost to a fault, it is a vigorous and colourful story enriched by Mda’s dry humour
and his ability to engage with his reader on a very personal level.
Always outspoken, Mda has in the past voiced his disappointment in, and been critical of, what he sees as ‘crony capitalism’ and the ‘patronage system’ in the ‘new’ South Africa – a lot of which was highlighted in his
last novel Black Diamond – and finds that he has been side-lined in many aspects of South African culture where he feels he could make a significant contribution. Because he ‘resisted the centre’ and ‘stayed on the periphery’,
he regards himself as an outsider’ – hence the book’s subtitle. Admirers of Mda’s fiction will enjoy getting to know more about the man.
Author: Zakes Mda