The fifth issue of The Johannesburg Review of Books has arrived—possibly our best edition yet.
Before we dive in, we are delighted to announce that The JRB’s Contributing Editor, Bongani Madondo, has been shortlisted for an inaugural Brittle Paper Literary Award, for his piece ‘Writes of Passage, an Urban Memoir: How a Pan-African Journal and American Glossies Put Bongani Madondo on the Write Path’, which appeared in the July edition of The JRB. Long live, Mr Madondo, long live!
In this edition of The JRB, a serendipitous, recurring themes is southern African history and our royal ancestors, with Queen Modjadji materialising in more than one essay. Perhaps not too distant from this, a number of contributors also consider the differences and similarities between racial politics in the United States and southern African. The idea of the ‘hyper-real’ also seemed to preoccupy many of our writers this month, and there is also a strong Zimbabwean thread in two of our biggest pieces.
It’s festival month in South Africa, and one of the perks of that is meeting exciting international authors. The JRB’s Academic Editor, Simon van Schalkwyk, was lucky enough to sit down with Man Booker Prize-winning author Paul Beatty for a far-ranging discussion that covers the nature of literary merit, the disintegration of genre, and Black Consciousness’s relationship to the Civil Rights Movement. We also have a short podcast of Beatty reading from his award-winning book The Sellout for your listening pleasure.
In our second big interview of the issue, Petina Gappah chats to Bongani Kona about the highs and lows of her writing career, and reveals exclusive details about her next book.
A very special feature this month is a retrospective of JRB Photo Editor Victor Dlamini’s work: Ten years, thirty photographs. We also feature his new, original portraits of Paul Beatty and Teju Cole. Feast your eyes!
For those of you sniffing around for your next read, Alex Lichtenstein reviews Charles van Onselen’s The Cowboy Capitalist—a rollicking tale that links the Jameson Raid with the American West—while CA Davids reviews Salman Rushdie’s new book The Golden House, calling it his ‘finest writing in many years’. You won’t want to miss Wamuwi Mbao’s review of Canadian writer Scaachi Koul’s ‘glittering’ collection of essays, One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter—especially since the author will be at the Open Book Festival in Cape Town this week.
This issue we have the honour of publishing new poetry from the esteemed Nii Ayikwei Parkes, as well as an exclusive excerpt from Dikeledi, the new novel from award-winning author (and JRB Patron) Achmat Dangor.
If it’s a top-notch literary essay you’re after, look no further. This month, Sisonke Msimang discusses the importance of Howard French‘s growing oeuvre, which examines Africa’s relationship with China; Panashe Chigumadzi gives us a glimpse into her forthcoming collection of essays, provisionally titled Beautiful Hair for a Landless People; and Percy Zvomuya uncovers a fascinating link between James Baldwin and an obscure Rhodesian book.
For those of you yearning for some armchair travel, the JRB City Editor Niq Mhlongo recounts how he left the city to walk the hills of Mapungubwe and commune with the ancestors.
JRB Contributing and Francophone Editor Efemia Chela gives us the lowdown on what’s happening in French literature, including news about a new translation of Marie NDiaye’s psychological drama My Heart Hemmed In, and an award for Mauritian author Ananda Devi. Also discover ‘The New French’ as featured in Words Without Borders’s latest issue.
Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 1, Issue 5, which you will also find on our issue archive page:
- A rollicking tale: Alex Lichtenstein reviews Charles van Onselen’s new book The Cowboy Capitalist: John Hays Hammond, the American West and the Jameson Raid
- Salman Rushdie’s finest writing in many years: CA Davids reviews The Golden House
- ‘A writer utterly in control of her medium’: Wamuwi Mbao reviews Scaachi Koul’s glittering collection of essays, One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter
- ‘With any luck people will be reading The Sellout fifty years from now’ – an interview with Man Booker Prize-winning author Paul Beatty
- Exclusive interview: Petina Gappah speaks about the highs and lows of her writing career, and reveals details of her next book
- James Baldwin in Rhodesia: Percy Zvomuya picks out a thread from the forgotten war book Black Fire!
- A guide for writing from the outside in: Sisonke Msimang on how Howard W French maps the road between the Africa of her childhood and the China of her imagination
- Rights of Conquest, Rights of Desire: Panashe Chigumadzi considers the black female body through a return to JM Coetzee’s Disgrace
- [City Editor] The place of the ancestors: Niq Mhlongo leaves the city to walk the hills of Mapungubwe
- Ten years, thirty portraits: A Victor Dlamini retrospective
- [Photo Editor] Original portraits of Paul Beatty and Teju Cole by Victor Dlamini
News and Other
- New translation of Marie NDiaye’s psychological drama My Heart Hemmed In
- From the fringe to the centre: Meet ‘The New French’ in the latest issue of Words Without Borders
- Mauritian author Ananda Devi wins the 2017 Firecracker Award for Fiction for Eve Out of Her Ruins
- [The JRB Daily] Tribute to the extraordinary Dambudzo Marechera, thirty years after his death
- [The JRB Daily] JRB Contributing Editor Bongani Madondo up for Brittle Paper Literary Award
- [The JRB Daily] English Academy of Southern Africa Award winners announced