The Johannesburg Review of Books Vol. 1, Issue 7 (November 2017)

JohannesburgWelcome to the seventh issue of The Johannesburg Review of Books. 

This month, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Panashe Chigumadzi is joining The JRB as Contributing Editor. Panashe is an award-winning novelist and essayist, a former Ruth First Fellow and curator of the Abantu Book Festival. Regular readers will recall her meditation on JM Coetzee’s Disgrace from our September issue, as well as pin-sharp reviews of Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness and Kathleen Collins’s Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? We look forward to bringing more of her words to you in the future.

In more sinister news, this month there is a new book that has got all South Africans, readers and non-readers alike, feverishly turning pages (and in many cases scrolling through pirated copies): investigative journalist Jacques Pauw’s sensational exposé The President’s Keepers. The book was a well-kept secret until last Sunday, but in this edition Imraan Coovadia provides an illuminating summation of the grievous breaches of the law detailed in the book, and their implications.

On a more uplifting note, this month we feature an interview between Contributing Editor Bongani Madondo and Mandla Langa, award-winning author and JRB Editorial Advisory Panel member, about Dare Not Linger, the newly published and long-awaited sequel to Long Walk to Freedom.

Our regular contributor Wamuwi Mbao weighs in with another astute and elegant review, in this issue appraising the latest work by JM Coetzee: Late Essays: 2006—2017.

We celebrate the work of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s landmark book Decolonising the Mind, a new edition of which has just been published in German. In a wonderfully reflective essay written to feature in the book, JRB Editorial Advisory Panel member Petina Gappah reflects on the influence of Ngũgĩ’s philosophy on her work and life.

In an exclusive excerpt from her highly anticipated new memoir Always Another Country, Sisonke Msimang describes her first visit to South Africa in December 1990: a night out in Hillbrow that provides a lasting lesson for us all in 2017. 

City Editor Niq Mhlongo checks in with an account of his literary travels to Accra, Ghana—first in 2008, for the Pan-African Literary Forum, and now, in 2017, for the first ever PaGya! Literary Festival.

Contributing Editor Efemia Chela reviews Marie NDiaye’s newly translated masterpiece My Heart Hemmed Ina mixture of literary fiction, psychological thriller and absurdism. She also continues her Temporary Sojouner series of literary travels around Africa with a look into Mauritian author Ananda Devi’s Eve Out of Her Ruins.

Our poetry this month plays against type by being extremely topical. We feature previously unpublished work by Mbali Vilakazi that will be music to the ears of poetry lovers, and even if you’re more of a non-fiction type of person, if you were in any way touched by the recent Black Monday controversy you may find cause for reflection here.

From our Photo Editor Victor Dlamini this month, we’re proud to present original portraits of Taiye Selasi and Vangile Gantsho.

The first-ever full length biography of the Nigerian poet Christopher Okigbo has just been published. Written by Obi Nwakanma, the book is a worthy homage to the man who has achieved posthumous cult status among a new wave of young African writers today. You can read an excerpt in this edition of The JRB.

In a far-ranging travel essay, Olivia Rose Walton contemplates Turkey and South Africa, ‘two vast countries of weird violence’, from the windows of two long-distance trains. 

The JRB’s Editor Jennifer Malec sat down with Nathan Hill at the Open Book Festival in Cape Town recently to talk about his bestselling debut novel, The Nix, and you can read the full conversation in this issue.

History and Classics buffs won’t want to miss David van Schoor’s review of Sarah Ruden’s bold new translation of Augustine’s Confessions, the most important work of classical Antiquity to come out of Africa.

Our November issue’s cover image, featuring Clive van den Berg’s sculpture The Eland, which greets visitors to Braamfontein, comes from Johannesburg In Your Pocket.

Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 1, Issue 7, which you will also find on our issue archive page:









Issue photo: Johannesburg in Your Pocket City Guide

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