Welcome to the ninth issue of Volume 2 of The Johannesburg Review of Books.
This month, we were privileged to sit down with Arundhati Roy to discuss her highly anticipated second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, as well her wide-ranging non-fiction work.
Craig Higginson chats to The JRB Editor Jennifer Malec about his sixth novel, The White Room, and the responsibilities that come with being a South African writer.
This issue, we are also very proud to present a new short story by award-winning author Sifiso Mzobe: ‘Looking for Simphiwe’.
In our reviews, section, Richard Poplak looks at the controversial new book The Lost Boys of Bird Island, declaiming it ‘one of the most important works of non-fiction in South Africa’s democratic era’.
Wamuwi Mbao reviews Lisa Halliday’s ‘genuinely surprising’ debut novel Asymmetry, Bongani Kona reads Ondjaki’s newly translated ‘kaleidoscopic’ novel, Transparent City, and Loftus Marais assesses The Long Take by Robin Robertson, which was recently longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize.
Ugandan author Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi visited Wits University in August, and you can read our report on the discussion, which covers the wide-ranging topics of Kintu’s use of language, the pitfalls of historical fiction, Ugandans’ reaction to the homosexuality in the novel, and her interrogation of the original myth’s intense masculinity.
We feature a timely excerpt from I Want to Go Home Forever, a new book that, in the words of Jonny Steinberg, ‘unsettles so many old assumptions’ about xenophobia, as well as an extract from House of Stone, the debut novel by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma.
In our poetry section, we’re delighted to feature a previously unpublished poem by Kelwyn Sole: ‘The empty space we call Mandela’.
Photo Editor Victor Dlamini offers original portraits of Arundhati Roy for your enjoyment, and City Editor Niq Mhlongo travels to Tanzania and contemplates his ‘Vagabond Neurosis’.
Finally, in our Francophone section, enjoy an excerpt, in French, from Congolese–French author Wilfried N’sondé’s novel, Un océan, deux mers, trois continents, winner of the Prix Ahmadou-Kourouma.
Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 2, Issue 9, which you will also find on our issue archive page:
- One of the most important works of non-fiction in South Africa’s democratic era—Richard Poplak reviews The Lost Boys of Bird Island
- ‘Utterly mysterious, and utterly worthy of our attention’—Wamuwi Mbao reviews Asymmetry, the debut novel by Lisa Halliday
- A kaleidoscopic novel of radiant beauty—Bongani Kona reviews the new English translation of Ondjaki’s Transparent City
- A glorious mixture of low and high culture—Loftus Marais reviews Robin Robertson’s Man Booker Prize-longlisted book, The Long Take
- ‘You have to write like a suicide bomber, you have to detonate’—Arundhati Roy discusses The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
- ‘I want the reader to be an active participant, to work things out for themselves’—Craig Higginson chats about his new novel, The White Room
- ‘Authors in the West don’t worry about whether Africa will understand them’—Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi discusses Kintu at Wits
- [City Editor] Tanzania and my Vagabond Neurosis—Niq Mhlongo contemplates his irresistible urge to travel
- Unsettling old assumptions about xenophobia—Read an excerpt from I Want to Go Home Forever: Stories of Becoming and Belonging in South Africa’s Great Metropolis
- Of Fathers and Grandfathers—Read an excerpt from House of Stone, the debut novel by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma
- Read an excerpt from Congolese–French author Wilfried N’sondé’s novel, Un océan, deux mers, trois continents, winner of the Prix Ahmadou-Kourouma
The JRB Daily