The Johannesburg Review of Books Vol. 3, Issue 5—our birthday issue!

Imraan Coovadia • Ivan Vladislavić • Pwaangulongii Dauod • Panashe Chigumadzi • Efemia Chela • Wamuwi Mbao • Makhosazana Xaba • Niq Mhlongo • Annwen Bates • Rémy Ngamije • Jennifer Malec • Victor Dlamini


JohannesburgWelcome to the fifth issue of Volume 3 of The Johannesburg Review of Books!

It’s our birthday issue this month: we’re two! Since our first issue in May 2017, we’ve published more than two hundred individual writers; eighty interviews; thirty poets; forty pieces of short fiction; fifty essays; and sixty book excerpts. Most of the items we’ve published come from South Africa and Africa, but we’ve also featured pieces from many other parts of the world. It’s been a challenge and a pleasure to produce The JRB month-in and month-out and we hope you’ve enjoyed the ride as much as we have. Here’s to the next twenty-five!

In our featured interview this month, Ivan Vladislavić, a Patron of The JRB, chats to Editor Jennifer Malec about memory, nostalgia and his latest novel, The Distance.

In reviews, Imraan Coovadia assesses Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s controversial new book, Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture, while Wamuwi Mbao weighs up Rebels and Rage: Reflecting on #FeesMustFall by Adam Habib, finding it engrossing, but ultimately unconvincing. Three stirring psychological novels, meanwhile, are the focus of a review by Contributing Editor Efemia Chela: Leïla Slimani’s Adèle, Ariana Harwicz’s Die, My Love and Melissa Broder’s The Pisces—kindred portraits of contemporary womanhood.

Contributing Editor Panashe Chigumadzi presents a new reading of the work, career and life of Dorothy Masuka, arguing that Masuka presented a revolutionary challenge to white supremacy and structural patriarchy alike.

The JRB is delighted to present ‘Discovering a Nervous Condition’, new original narrative non-fiction by award-winning writer Pwaangulongii Dauod.

City Editor Niq Mhlongo finds out he’s big in Myanmar, and presents a cautionary tale from his interaction his (heretofore unknown) international publisher—which ties in forebodingly with the potential effects of South Africa’s Copyright Amendment Bill.

In our poetry section this month, we feature previously unpublished poetry by Annwen Bates, as well as an exclusive excerpt from The Alkalinity of Bottled Water, the new collection of poetry by The JRB Patron Makhosazana Xaba.

We’re also pleased to share an exclusive excerpt from The Eternal Audience of One, the debut novel by Rwandan-born Namibian writer Rémy Ngamije.

From our Photo Editor Victor Dlamini this month, a pair of original portraits of Lesego Rampolokeng and Lauren Beukes.

In Francophone news, find out about the new online dictionary and collaborative platform The Dictionary of Francophones, which aims to capture, codify and present hundreds of thousands of French colloquialisms from around the world.

Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 3, Issue 5, which you will also find on our issue archive page:





New fiction


City Editor

Francophone news

The JRB Daily

Header image: Jennifer Malec

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