Spaces and places in Zakes Mda : two novesl

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The notion of place as something at once geographic, socio-cultural and psychological is a ubiquitous concern in the novels of Zakes Mda. It is surely not by chance that Mda's interest in the novelistic form, which materialised in the publication of Ways of Dying in 1995, was roughly coincident with South Africa's fledgling democracy a year earlier. The end of apartheid meant the opportunity of exploring new forms of cultural discourse untrammeled by the intense politicisation of art that had tended to collapse the literary with the didactic in rather one-dimensional ways. Mda's consideration of place, this thesis argues, is one instance of such an exploration. More specifically, it examines the intersection of the social and the spatial in two of his novels: Ways of Dying and The Heart of Redness. Starting at the junction of race, politics and literature, it moves into how the country's changing physical and political boundary lines have effected new ways of relating to its spaces. The focus of the Ways of Dying chapter is on urban space, where migrants and settled urbanites must reconcile the rather fragmented and cosmopolitan character of the city.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 87-92).