Es'kia Mphahlele, formerly known as Ezekiel Mphahlele Biography
(1919– ), formerly known as Ezekiel Mphahlele, Down Second Avenue, Black Orpheus, Man Must Live
South African novelist, essayist, and short-story writer, born in Pretoria, educated at the University of South Africa and the University of Denver. In Down Second Avenue (1959) Mphahlele gives an impassioned account of his impoverished childhood in Pretoria. He left South Africa for Nigeria in 1957. Together with Wole Soyinka and Ulli Beier he edited the literary journal Black Orpheus (1960–4). After a period as Professor of English Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, he returned to South Africa in 1977 and became Senior Research Fellow at the African Studies Institute of the University of Wit-watersrand. Some of his best fiction, brusque in style and angry in tone, is in his short stories about life in the South African ghettoes, collected in Man Must Live (1947), The Living and the Dead (1961), and In Corner B (1967). His novels, which frequently deal with themes of exile, dispossession, and corruption in African politics, include The Wanderers (1971), Chirundu (1979), and Father Come Home (1984). Other works include The Unbroken Song (1981), short stories; Africa My Music: An Autobiography 1957–83 (1984); and The African Image (1962) and Voices in the Whirlwind (1973), two influential volumes of literary and social criticism.