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Zakes Mda Announced as Guest of Jozi Book Fair 2014

Zakes Mda

Jozi Book Fair logoAlert! The dates and Guest of the Fair for the 2014 Jozi Book Fair (JBF) have been revealed.

This year the Fair will be held on 26-27 September at Central Johannesburg College (Ellis Park campus) in Doornfontein. The theme of the Fair is “Reading the word and the world: the role of bookclubs”, and the final event programme is to be released on 10 September 2014.

Organisers have decided to alter the Fair’s usual October timeslot to enable students and staff at tertiary institutions to attend, while the venue has changed to accommodate the event’s growth.

This year’s Guest of the Fair is none other than Zakes Mda, who will participate in a number of conversations, workshops, seminars and debates, with the aim of “inspiring emerging writers, students, fellow artists and the public through their work”.

The Heart of RednessThe Sculptors of MapungubweWays of DyingThe Madonna of Excelsior


From the Jozi Book Fair:

The 6th Jozi Book Fair (JBF) is extremely honoured and thrilled to announce that the Guest of the Fair is internationally acclaimed Southern African writer and artist, Zakes Mda. The Guest of the fair is someone who through their work reflects and promotes the aims of the Fair, a social justice fair that promotes a culture of reading and writing is working and historically disadvantaged and oppressed communities. The idea to invite a ‘Guest of the Book Fair’ was first mooted at the second JBF in 2010. The role of the Guest is to inspire emerging writers, students, fellow artists and the public through their work; and also through various exposures such as conversations, workshops, seminars and debates with various constituencies and the public during the Fair.

Brief biography of ZAKES MDA

Zakes Mda, or Zanemvula Kizito Gatyeni Mda was born in 1948 in Herschel, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. He studied in South Africa, Lesotho and Britain, and has also worked in these countries.

Mda is a southern African and Appalachian writer, painter, and music composer. He holds an MFA (Theater) and an MA (Telecommunications) from Ohio University, and a PhD from the University of Cape Town. He has been awarded honorary doctorates in literature by the University of Cape Town and the University of the Free State.

Literary Work

He has published 21 books, ten of which are novels and the rest collections of plays, poetry and a monograph on the theory and practice of theater-for-development. His works have been translated into 20 languages, including Catalan, Korean, Serbian, German, Swedish, Dutch, Turkish, Norwegian and Italian.


Mda has won a number of awards in South Africa, the USA and Italy, including the Amstel Playwright of the Year Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Africa, the M-Net Prize, the Sunday Times Literary Prize, the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award and the American Library Association Notable Book. His novel Cion, set in southeast Ohio, was nominated for the NAACP Image Award. His memoir titled Sometimes there is a Void: Memoirs of an Outsider was published by Penguin Books in 2011 and Farrar Straus and Giroux in 2012 and was the New York Times Notable Book for 2012. He was an Artist in Residence at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies, Western Cape, South Africa, from July 15 to December 10, 2013. He is a Patron of the Market Theater, Johannesburg.

Latest work

His novel The Sculptors of Mapungubwe was published by Seagull Books in Calcutta, India in July 2013 and Kwela Books in South Africa in October 2013. His latest work is a novel set in rural Ohio titled Rachel’s Blue and examines what happens when a rapist fights for paternity rights over the rape-conceived child. It is only available as an e-book at the moment, but will be published by Kwela Books South Africa this year.

He has published a number of articles in refereed academic journals and has participated in in literary festivals, conferences and book tours in North America, Europe, South America and Australia.

Call to book clubs

This year the theme of the JBF is: Reading the word and the world: the role of book clubs. The JBF is promoting the formation of book clubs. We encourage you to form a book club and to read some of Mda’s work as part of your preparation and participation in the JBF. If you need assistance to set up your book club please contact us.

We also call on existing bookclubs to read Mda’s work between now and the Fair. To assist bookclubs with reading, we’ve included some book reviews on Mda’s work. To access these reviews, click here.
In addition, every month the JBF will put on our website the reviews of Mda’s work written by book clubs and readers.

Contact the Jozi Book Fair

Telephone: 011 336 9190

Book details


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