Zakes Mda’s SOMETIMES THERE IS A VOID picked by the New York Times as a Notable Book for 2012


Acclaimed South African author Zakes Mda's candid autobiography SOMETIMES THERE IS A VOID has been selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the Notable Books for 2012. The memoir is published in South Africa by Penguin and is published by Farrar Straus & Giroux in the US.

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.

Rob Nixon of The New York Times reviewed SOMETIMES THERE IS A VOID earlier in 2012 noting that, 'Mda's greatest gift is his Dickensian social range [and] his ability to generate characters from diverse backgrounds, colluding and colliding across the barriers erected to divide them… Mda takes us deep into his country's literal interior, those rural regions that, in most South African writing, are pushed to the margins… Yet, as his autobiography discloses, on the stage and on the page Mda has found a different kind of continuity through the steadying presence of imaginative belonging. To his credit, in a deeply unsettled life, he has nurtured this capacity to find within the creative act itself new, reviving forms of homecoming.'

For the full list of notable reads, click here.

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

'The narration of his personal revelations is compelling, honest, amusing, sometimes tragi-comic …This is Zakes Mda's story. It must be read.' -- Maureen Isaacson, The Sunday Independent

Praise for Zakes Mda:

'A voice for which one should feel not only affection but admiration' -- The New York Times
'For a long time, white writers dominated South African literature - Paton, Brink, Gordimer, Coetzee. Post-apartheid, Zakes Mda, looks like the great South African novelist of his generation, a writer rich in both imagination and ironic political attitude.'                                 -- The Philadelphia Inquirer

'In novel after novel, Zakes Mda seems to have cultivated a mode of writing in which the realistic and the magical co-exist with unruffled ease.' -- Harry Garuba, Independent

'Zakes Mda is among the most acclaimed exponents of a new artistic freedom. His fiction has a beguiling lyricism and humour, revelling in the beauty of aloe-covered mountains or Cape marine life.' -- Maya Jaggi, The Guardian