The Johannesburg Review of Books Vol. 3, Issue 7

Jacob Dlamini • Lauren Beukes • Mphuthumi Ntabeni • Wamuwi Mbao • Zanta Nkumane • TC Farren • Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu • Kagayi Ngobi • Victor Dlamini • Niq Mhlongo • James Murua • Robin Moger • Jennifer Malec • Zoë August



Welcome to the seventh issue of Volume 3 of The Johannesburg Review of Books.

In which!

Zanta Nkumane reviews Ocean Vuong’s devastating and exquisite debut On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, a novel about living in the margins with the grace and ferocity to be. Editor Jennifer Malec reviews Ali Smith’s Spring, the third book in her Seasonal Quartet, which demonstrates how to write beautifully about our horrible, hysterical present.

This month, we got writers talking. Mphuthumi Ntabeni sat down with Zoë August to discuss his novel The Broken River Tent, as well as the rise of the African historical novel, and African literature’s current trajectory in general. Ugandan writer Kagayi Ngobi speaks to Editorial Advisory Panel member James Murua about his protest poetry, his debut collection, The Headline That Morning, and his forthcoming works. (Bonus: we present two of Kagayi’s poems.) Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu, author of The Theory of Flight, interviewed novelist and screenwriter TC Farren on her latest work of fiction, the psychological thriller The Book of Malachi.

This month, from Editorial Advisory Panel member and regular reviewer Wamuwi Mbao, something a little different: read his new short story, ‘Beginnings.’

We are also pleased to feature an exclusive excerpt from UnGirls, a disturbing and provocative new work of fiction by Editorial Advisory Panel member Lauren Beukes, as well as a sample from the audiobook for you to listen to.

In a fascinating essay, the writer Jacob Dlamini reveals what training as a field guide at a private game reserve taught him about culture, nature, power and race.

In our poetry section, we feature previously unpublished work by Cape Town-based poet Robin Moger: two translations of ‘Poem Six’ from The Interpreter of Desires, by prolific Sufi poet and philosopher Mohieddine Ibn Arabi.

From our Photo Editor Victor Dlamini this month, original portraits of the late Ahmed Essop, who died in June.

City Editor Niq Mhlongo, having just won his first South African prize, laments the caprice—and celebrates the excitement—of literary awards, and shares his own bittersweet experience.

In Francophone news, we congratulate Nigerian novelist Elnathan John, who has been awarded the 2019 Prix Les Afriques for the French translation of his novel Born on a Tuesday.

Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 3, Issue 7, which you will also find on our issue archive page:



New fiction




Francophone news

The JRB Daily

Header image: Ben Williams

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