Zakes Mda is a respected academic and one of South Africa’s most recognized authors. And yet for a man with potentially lots to lose, he appears bent on ripping apart his own legacy. His biography, Sometimes There is a Void (published in the USA in 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux) is at once riveting and [...]
Published in 2011 by Penguin, Zakes Mda’s Black Diamond is a contemporary South African novel that brings into sharp focus the stereotypes surrounding middle class black South Africans, popularly referred to as black diamonds, and many of whom, are beneficiaries of the government-sponsored black economic empowerment program. The story revolves around an Afrikaans magistrate Kristin Uys who commits the ultimate occupational blunder – she sentences the Visagie brothers to jail for running a brothel.
Zakes Mda’s autobiography, ‘Sometimes There Is a Void: Memoirs of an Outsider’ is due to be released this week in the US by FSG after an earlier release in his native South Africa last year. 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.
Fiction does not always enhance or deepen our understanding of complex realities of time and place. In his novel, The Madonna of Excelsior, set in his native South Africa, Zakes Mda has achieved this mixture admirably. Against the backdrop of political events of the pre- and post-Apartheid, he builds his narrative around the impact of one specific event and its aftermath on one small community, Excelsior. He captures the essence of life under Apartheid and the difficulties awaiting all when the regime ends.