As a child Zakes Mda saw his father - a lawyer and social activist in Soweto in South Africa - dragged off by white policemen who raided the family's home in search of Communist publications (only a week earlier the elder Mda had ordered the books buried in a safe place).
With time Mda became a writer himself. He discusses his memoir Sometimes There Is A Void on Tuesday, February 16, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
The book follows the young Mda's odyssey into exile with his father in British-run Basutoland (now Lesotho). There he came of age, serving as an altar boy, flirting with girls, avoiding racist Boers, falling for the music of Antonin Dvorak and John Coltrane and immersing himself in both comic books and the literature of the outlawed Pan African Congress.
He became writer in residence at South Africa's famed Market Theatre and later began writing award-winning novels (Ways of Dying, The Heart of Redness) and poetry (Bits of Debris). Mda currently is a professor of creative writing at Ohio University and lives in both Johannesburg, South Africa, and Athens, Ohio.
In her review of Sometimes There Is A Void, author Alexandra Fuller writes: "Read this and be prepared to examine your own soul as never before...it's been a long time since I have been so undone and remade by another person's words."
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP online  or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available at the Library District Parking Garage at 10th & Baltimore.
Major funding for programs at the Kansas City Public Library is provided by a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.