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Zakes Mda

South Africa

South African novelist.

More by user: Eds
Created: 5th Feb 2008
Modified: 7th Jul 2008
Professional Information
Ohio University
Working primarily in:
United States

Description of Work:
From the University of KwaZulu-Natal:

Prolific playwright, poet, journalist, painter and author, Zakes Mda presently commutes between the USA (where he is Professor of Creative Writing and Literary Theory at Ohio University ) and South Africa, where he runs a number of community projects and playwriting workshops. As a professional beekeeper he is Founder and Trustee of the Lower Telle Beekeepers Collective Trust in the Eastern Cape, one reason perhaps why bees feature so prominently in some of his novels.

Zakes Mda is Founder and Trustee of the Southern African Multimedia AIDS Program where he trains HIV-positive people to write. Their stories are soon to be published in an anthology, and then adapted into stage plays, radio drama and film for performance by community theatre groups and radio stations. Involved in AIDS education since 1985, Zakes has produced many stage and television dramas and comic books on the subject. Since 1996 Mda has been Director of Thapama Productions cc, a film and television production company and is engaged in a number of local and international co-productions. Zakes Mda studied and worked in South Africa, Lesotho, the UK and USA and now devotes his time to writing and teaching.

Mda has won numerous accolades, not least the 2001 Commonwealth Writers Prize, Africa Region, for The Heart of Redness, and the Olive Schreiner and M-Net Book Prizes for Ways of Dying which has since been adapted into a play, a jazz opera and a Broadway production. This award-winning playwright is now consumed with a passion for writing novels and can't keep pace with the story ideas in his head. His forthcoming novel, entitled The Whale Caller, set in Hermanus, is due for release at the end of 2004.

Of his writing process Mda says “As I am writing my current novels I am already accumulating notes for the next one. Most of my stories are suggested to me by the place ... the setting ... I take my time to build my major characters, long before there is any story for them. The story is therefore the last thing in my writing process, emerging as a result of the interaction of the characters and the place… I never worry about the plot because it works itself out from who the characters are and what their physical, social and political environments are.”
Biographical Information
Zakes Mda
(At a Glance)
Place of Origin: South Africa

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