OVERRIDE

Sometimes There Is a Void

Memoirs of an Outsider

Zakes Mda

Picador

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

"Moving, funny... Here is a man looking back on his life and country with joy and sorrow."
—John Freeman, The Boston Globe

The most acclaimed South African writer of his generation, Zakes Mda eight novels venture far beyond the conventional narratives of a people’s struggle against apartheid. In this memoir, he tells of a life that intersects with the politics of his country—a story that is, at its heart, the classic adventure of an artist, lover, and bon vivant. Living in exile with his father in Basutoland (now Lesotho) during the first pangs of his country’s independence, a series of brutal and poignant initiations ushered him toward the life of a writer—and that of a perpetual outsider. Through the indignity of Boer racism, the turmoil of the Soweto uprisings, not to mention three marriages and his eventual immigration to America, Mda struggled to remain his own man. With Sometimes There Is a Void, he shows that independence opened the way for the stories of individual South Africans in all their variety.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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CHAPTER ONE THE SMELL OF LIFE is back on the pink mountain. Human life, that is, for other forms have always thrived here even after we had left. Before our return shrubs and bushes flourished, but their fused aromas highlighted an absence. The air was too crisp. Too clean and fresh. In spring aloes bloomed - hence the pinkness - and wild bees busied themselves with the task of collecting pollen for some hive that would invariably be located in a cleft of a dangerous-looking sandstone cliff. Now we have tamed the bees, and are keeping them in supers that dot the landscape. Bees have brought
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REVIEWS

Praise for Sometimes There Is a Void

"A gregarious and transfixing memoir... Chronicles the upheavals that have sharpened Mda’s skills as a wide-ranging social observer." — Rob Nixon, The New York Times Book Review

"Fascinating... During my five-year stint as Africa bureau chief for The Christian Science Monitor, I struggled in vain to find a memoir like this one." —Scott Baldauf, The Christian Science Monitor

"It is easy to become immersed in this memoir… Mda’s deeper struggles parallel those of all South Africans seeking identity and freedom." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Remarkably gorgeous, urgent, poetic... It’s been a long time since I have been so undone and remade by another person’s words." —Alexandra Fuller, author of Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Zakes Mda

  • Zakes Mda is a professor of creative writing at Ohio University. He has been a visiting professor at both Yale and the University of Vermont. Among his novels, The Heart of Redness (FSG, 2002) won the Richard Wright Zora Neale Hurston Legacy Award. He lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Athens, Ohio.
  • Zakes Mda Sal Idriss
    Zakes Mda
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Available Formats and Book Details

Sometimes There Is a Void

Memoirs of an Outsider

Zakes Mda

New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year

BOOKS FOR COURSES AVAILABLE

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Picador

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