The Johannesburg Review of Books Vol. 3, Issue 6

Binyavanga Wainaina • Esi Edugyan • Henrietta Rose-Innes • Masande Ntshanga • OluTimehin Adegbeye • Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu • Simon van Schalkwyk • Victor Dlamini • Niq Mhlongo • Adekeye Adebajo • Efemia Chela • Harry Owen • Ena Jansen


JohannesburgWelcome to the sixth issue of Volume 3 of The Johannesburg Review of Books.

This month we bid farewell to Binyavanga Wainaina. The Binj, as he was fondly known, was a revolutionary writer and a unique thinker, with a magnetic personality, but what has emerged most strongly in the recollections of those who knew him was the extraordinary generosity he showed to young or upcoming writers and artists. He will be hugely missed.

In 2016, Wainaina contributed a piece of writing to an art project titled Inside: Artists and Writers in Reading Prison. The composition, which takes the form of a letter to his late mother, is one of Wainaina’s last pieces of published writing, and we’re pleased to be able to share it in this issue.

As part of our tribute to Wainaina, we also feature some previously unseen photographs of the great man, courtesy of our Photo Editor Victor Dlamini, while City Editor Niq Mhlongo shares memories of his adventures with his friend, including a recent bungee jump off the Orlando Towers.

Rest in peace, Binyavanga.

Elsewhere in our June issue, Academic Editor Simon van Schalkwyk enters the uncanny valley of literary realism with a review of Ian McEwan’s new novel Machines Like Me, while Contributing Editor Bongani Madondo appraises Kwame Braithwaite’s book of photograpy Black Is Beautiful, ‘the latest in a fragmentary but never isolated lineage of Black Genius’.

In a JRB exclusive, read Esi Edugyan‘s essay ‘The Wrong Door: Some Meditations on Solitude and Writing’, excerpted from the new book New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent.

This month Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu sat down with Masande Ntshanga to discuss his highly anticipated new novel, Triangulum. The interview includes three readings by Ntshanga, and if you haven’t got your hands on a copy yet, we also feature an excerpt from the book for you to sink your teeth into. 

OluTimehin Adegbeye was recently announced as the winner of this year’s Gerald Kraak Prize, which honours African writing and photography that ‘provokes thought on the topics of gender, social justice and sexuality’. You can read her winning essay, ‘Mothers and Men’, exclusively in this issue. 

Francophone and Contributing Editor Efemia Chela travels to Sudan in our Temporary Sojourner series this month, with Rania Mamoun’s newly translated debut collection of short stories, Thirteen Months of Sunrise.

Adekeye Adebajo reviews the new publication Building Blocks Towards an African Century: Essays in Honour of Thabo Mbeki, a book that shines a partial light on presidential ambition and influence.

In another JRB exclusive, we’re delighted to share some new short fiction from The JRB Contributing Editor Henrietta Rose-Innes, namely an excerpt from ‘Limerence’, from her new book Animalia Paradoxa.

In our poetry section this month, we feature two sparkling poems by Harry Owen.

From the new book Like Family: Domestic Workers in South African History and Literature, by Ena Jansen, read about Es’kia Mphahlele’s memories of growing up with a mother who was a domestic worker, and view a selection of artworks by David Goldblatt, Zanele Muholi and Mary Sibande

In Francophone news, find out more about Cameroonian author Djaïli Amadou Amal, who has won the €100,000 Prix Orange du livre en Afrique for her novel Munyal, les larmes de la patience.

Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 3, Issue 6, which you will also find on our issue archive page:


City Editor



Short fiction


Book excerpts


Francophone news

The JRB Daily

Header image: Jennifer Malec

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