Es’kia Mphahlele

(1919 - 2008)

When Es’kia Mphahlele was growing up in South Africa, his friends paid for his movie tickets because they needed him to read aloud the on-screen dialogue and titles in order to follow the story. One of his friends asked him, “How do you read so fast?” He replied, “Just like that,” and smiled. Raised in rural South Africa, Mphahlele came to Pretoria as an adolescent and in 1946 published Man Must Live, his first book of short stories. Barred from teaching by the apartheid government, he left South Africa in the late 1950s to live elsewhere in Africa and then in the United States; he returned to South Africa in 1977.

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