Welcome to the eighth issue of The Johannesburg Review of Books.
In South Africa, there’s December, and there’s Dezemba—the latter being a period of time that roughly corresponds to the former, but bearing an identity all its own.
Namely, Dezemba is that time of year when the collective southern African festive season party starts, and when some people make plans to go home—to Zimbabwe, to the Eastern Cape, to Limpopo—or go on holiday, which can be as near as Durban or as far as the Swiss Alps.
This month’s cover image, from a new title out from Fourthwall Books called Johannesburg. Made in China, gestures, with its purple taxi, in the direction of Dezemba, which is a time of taxis: taxis leaving major centres like Johannesburg, ferrying all and sundry to their families. It’s busy, very busy—and then it’s quiet, very quiet, as people settle into their holiday routines and the pace slows down, practically to a halt.
Dezemba is the perfect time to read fiction, then: a time when our minds enjoy extra bandwidth, shift easily from analysis to narrative, open receptively to stories and storytelling. To that end, The JRB is delighted to bring you the first of what we hope will be an annual Fiction Issue, featuring no fewer than a dozen original short stories. Take it on the road with you this Dezemba—we think you’ll find much to linger over, delight in and be moved by.
Over the course of our first year, we have been delighted at the popularity of the original poetry we have been privileged to publish. This month, we feature previously unpublished work from no less than three poets: Fiona Zerbst, Jim Pascual Agustin and Simon van Schalkwyk.
In a necessary exception to the Fiction Issue rules, we sat down for a literary chat with Nthikeng Mohlele, to celebrate the recent awards success of his novel Pleasure.
The offering from JRB Photo Editor Victor Dlamini this month is three striking original portraits of Wole Soyinka, Gcina Mhlophe and Athol Williams, while we also feature some childhood photography from none other than JM Coetzee, including a very fetching teenage selfie.
Writer and actor Tonderai Munyevu’s dispatch from Harare is an honorary adjunct to our December Fiction Issue; a piece of reportage as vivid as fiction.
We have provided a space for Sarah Ruden to respond to David van Schoor’s review of her translation of Augustine’s Confessions, which appeared in our November issue, and also reproduce an edited version of Andrew Miller’s keynote speech from the 2017 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award ceremony, in which he argues for the importance of writing stories in a time of digital disorder.
In Francophone news, read a new short story by Moroccan writer Driss Ksikes, and find out who won the coveted Prix Goncourt.
Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 1, Issue 8, which you will also find on our issue archive page:
- ‘Snake Story’, new short fiction by Henrietta Rose-Innes
- ‘Lolwethu Oluthando’, a short story by Julie Nxadi
- ‘I am here, Amor Swart, 1986. May tomorrow never come.’ Exclusive excerpt from a work in progress by Damon Galgut
- ‘Boy’, new short fiction by Yewande Omotoso
- ‘Some Men’, a short story by SJ Naudé
- ‘Forgiveness’, short fiction by Perfect Hlongwane
- ‘Child’s Play’, a short story by Gloria Mwaniga Minage
- ‘Thirty’, a short story by Wamuwi Mbao
- ‘Return of the Afringers’, an allegory by Bongani Madondo
- Exclusive excerpt from Lying Perfectly Still, a work in progress by Laura Fish
- ‘1. This Is The Title’, a short story by Richard de Nooy
- Excerpt from Moan of the Marabou by Akbar Hussain
- ‘Four Blocks Away’, a short story by Niq Mhlongo from his latest collection, Affluenza
- An excerpt from Imagine Ghosts Telling Tales in front of Smoky Mirrors, the debut novel by SL Masunda
- Two new poems by Fiona Zerbst
- New poetry by Jim Pascual Agustin: ‘Fire, the King Who is Called’
- New poetry by Simon van Schalkwyk: ‘Hay-on-Wye’
- ‘I don’t believe in showing off’: Nthikeng Mohlele chats about his award-winning novel Pleasure and future artistic pursuits
- ‘Should we let fiction die a natural death? No.’—Andrew Miller argues for the importance of writing stories in a time of digital disorder
- ‘I was interested in being present at the moment when truth revealed itself’—JM Coetzee’s childhood photography
- [Photo Editor] Original portraits of Wole Soyinka, Gcina Mhlophe and Athol Williams by Victor Dlamini
- Theatre and family trees: A new short story by Moroccan writer Driss Ksikes
- Éric Vuillard wins the 2017 Prix Goncourt for his novel L’ordre du jour