Thabo Mbeki

'Lost and Found in Johannesburg' maps the growth of a writer and nation

'Lost and Found in Johannesburg'

A love of maps is every true traveler's secret pleasure.

As a correspondent in Africa, years before one could follow a path rendered by MapQuest or Google Earth, I came to love and rely on those hand-stenciled city maps in the Lonely Planet guidebook and the continent maps I'd pick up at Paris bookstores.

Maps are more than utilitarian, though. They allow us to take stock of our surroundings and day-dream — or plot — our next conquest.

In his lyrical and achingly touching memoir, South African writer Mark Gevisser taps into a lifelong love of the street maps of his hometown to tell a story that is personal and universal. "Lost and Found in Johannesburg" is a...