Welcome to the tenth issue of Volume 2 of The Johannesburg Review of Books.
In this edition, Azad Essa makes his JRB debut with a review of Feroz Rather’s work of interconnected short stories The Night of Broken Glass, a book that masterfully captures the peculiar, punctured lives of ordinary Kashmiri civilians living under an occupation.
Scottish–Sierra Leonean author Aminatta Forna sat down with The JRB Editor Jennifer Malec at the Open Book Festival in Cape Town to talk about her new novel, Happiness, the question of authenticity in fiction, and why she believes the word ‘trauma’ is overused.
This month we’re pleased to present a trio of contemplative essays: Wamuwi Mbao laments the lack of prospects for what he terms Mzansi noir—dark and moody South African television adaptations of strong local fiction; Mohale Mashigo asserts that ‘Afrofuturism is not for Africans living in Africa’; and Fred Khumalo recalls being swept off his feet by Alan Paton, the African Writers Series and James Hadley Chase.
Jennifer Malec reviews Esi Edugyan’s Man Booker Prize-shortlisted novel, Washington Black, Zukiswa Wanner reports back from the Gaborone Book Festival, and City Editor Niq Mhlongo continues the tale of his literary travels in Africa—this time recounting how he overstayed his visa in Dar es Salaam, Morogoro and Mbeya, while learning more about how ANC exiles lived during apartheid.
In creative writing, we’re proud to present a new short story by poet, playwright and literary critic Sandile Ngidi, as well as new poetry by Maya Surya Pillay, a young poet who is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Our Photo Editor Victor Dlamini shares his original portraits of Chika Unigwe and Don Mattera.
In this edition you can also read an excerpt Poacher: Confessions From the Abalone Underworld by Kimon de Greef and Shuhood Abader, which our Editorial Advisory Panel member Richard Poplak called: ‘A stunning achievement. A classic South African narrative that includes questions of race, place, politics and morality. Intimate and wide-ranging, superbly researched and superbly written …’
At a recent Johannesburg symposium on the life of literary icon Can Themba, organised by author Siphiwo Mahala as a coda to his doctorate, Professor Muxe Nkondo delivered a keynote address that reaffirms Themba’s place in the canon and holds him up as role model for South Africans to follow, when considering fellow citizens who are not explicitly like themselves. We bring you Prof Nkondo’s address in its entirety.
Finally, in our Francophone section, we get excited about the new Alain Mabanckou novel, Les cigognes sont immortelles, which tackles a turbulent three days in Congolese history, and reveal the longlists for the Prix Femina and Prix Femina étranger—the latter of which includes Nigerian author Abubakar Adam Ibrahim.
Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 2, Issue 10, which you will also find on our issue archive page:
- The rediscovery of the ordinary does not preclude the extraordinary—Jennifer Malec reviews Esi Edugyan’s novel Washington Black
- Bullets and carnage, infidelity and revenge in occupied Kashmir—Azad Essa reviews Feroz Rather’s The Night of Broken Glass
- ‘I like writing male characters—I don’t have to get them home safely at the end of the chapter’—An interview with Aminatta Forna
- Where’s Mzansi noir?—Wamuwi Mbao laments the lack of dark and moody South African television adaptations
- Books and belonging—Fred Khumalo reflects on how James Hadley Chase and Alan Paton changed his life
- ‘Afrofuturism is not for Africans living in Africa’—an essay by Mohale Mashigo, excerpted from her new collection of short stories, Intruders
- ‘An imaginative understanding of the next person’—Prof Muxe Nkondo considers Can Themba’s significance in South Africa’s world of differences
- [City Editor] Niq Mhlongo overstays his visa in Dar es Salaam, Morogoro and Mbeya
- The parties end early but Botswana is lit—Zukiswa Wanner reports back from the Gaborone Book Festival
- ‘Man’s afraid of a few sharks’—Read an excerpt from Poacher: Confessions From the Abalone Underworld by Kimon de Greef and Shuhood Abader
- Prix Femina and Prix Femina étranger longlists revealed—including Abubakar Adam Ibrahim and Olga Tokarczuk
- Alain Mabanckou’s new novel Les cigognes sont immortelles tackles a turbulent three days in Congolese history
The JRB Daily
- Lesego Rampolokeng and Barbara Boswell win the UJ Prizes for South African Writing
- 2018 South African Literary Awards shortlists revealed—and new Poet Laureate to be announced
- ‘Remarkably diverse’ 2018 Man Booker Prize shortlist announced
- Fred Khumalo to publish a book of short stories in isiZulu—uManzekhofi Nezakhe
- Siphiwo Mahala delivers his inaugural postdoctoral address at the premiere of his new documentary on Can Themba
- Shortlist announced for the $100,000 Nigeria Prize for Literature—Africa’s richest literary award
- UJ Prize shortlists announced—novels dominate this year