By Daniel Musiitwa
Regarded as one of South Africa’s leading authors, Zakes Mda (real name: Zanemvula Kizito Gatyeni Mda) is a multi-talented writer, whose work has received local and international recognition. Mda first rose to prominence in 1978, when he received the Amstel Merit Award for his play, We Shall Sing for the Fatherland. A year later, he won the Amstel Playwright of the Year Award for another his plays, The Hill. His first two novels, She Plays with the Darkness and Ways of Dying, both released in 1995, were literary successes in his native South Africa. The former won the Sanlam Literary Award, while the latter went on to win the 1997 M-Net Literary Award.
In 2001, Mda’s book, The Heart of Redness, won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book- Africa, and also received the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the Sunday Times Fiction Prize. The Madonna of Excelsior, published in 2002, was selected as one of the Top Ten South African Books Published in the Decade of Democracy. Mda’s autobiography, Sometimes There Is a Void: Memoirs of an Outsider, released earlier this year, was published in South Africa by Penguin, and is due to be released this week in the US by FSG. It was picked by the Guardian’s Alexandra Fuller, as one of her top ten African memoirs.
In this interview, Zakes Mda talks about his writing, and his latest book, Sometimes There Is a Void: Memoirs of an Outsider.
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