The Johannesburg Review of Books Vol. 3, Issue 8

Wamuwi Mbao • Panashe Chigumadzi • Makhosazana Xaba • Lesley Nneka Arimah • Niq Mhlongo • Elinor Sisulu • Victor Dlamini • Lara Buxbaum • Rethabile Masilo • Adam El Shalakany • Noel Cheruto • Lester Walbrugh • Napo Masheane Natalia Molebatsi • Vangi Gantsho • Mthunzikazi Mbungwana • Nosipho Gumede • Afua Hirsch • Danielle Legros Georges • Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida



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

We have a bumper issue lined up for you this month.

In reviews, Wamuwi Mbao reads Nicole Dennis-Benn’s second novel, Patsy, finding it to be readable in the best sense of the word. Dennis-Benn will be at the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September. Panashe Chigumadzi gives her take on the collection Township Girls: The Cross-Over Generation, deeming it a significant first step in documenting the life writing of black Zimbabwean women. Finally, Lara Buxbaum reviews Patrick Chamoiseau’s wildly inventive novel The Old Slave and the Mastiff.

Jennifer Malec speaks to Lesley Nneka Arimah on her recent Caine Prize for African Writing win, and in an excerpt from the new book Our Words, Our Worlds: Writing on Black South African Women Poets, 2000–2018, Makhosazana Xaba interviews five contemporary poets from Gauteng: Napo Masheane, Natalia Molebatsi, Vangi Gantsho, Mthunzikazi Mbungwana and Nosipho Gumede.

The winners of the Short Story Day Africa Prize were announced this morning, and The JRB is delighted to exclusively present the three winning stories in this issue—‘Happy City Hotel’ by Adam El Shalakany, ‘Mr Thompson’, by Noel Cheruto and ‘The Space(s) Between Us’ by Lester Walbrugh.

The first edition of Read This!, our WhatsApp voice note book show, will be out later today—find out how to sign up here. It’s free!

This year marks the centenary of Peter Abrahams and Noni Jabavu, and in this issue Elinor Sisulu and Makhosazana Xaba celebrate and pay tribute to two of South Africa’s literary icons.

In celebration of Women’s Month, The JRB is pleased to present a series of excerpts from New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent. Settle in with a cup of tea and read Danielle Legros Georges’s poem ‘A Stateless Poem’, Afua Hirsch’s essay ‘What Does it Mean to Be African?’, and an excerpt from the much-anticipated English translation of Angolan-Portuguese writer Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida’s debut novel, That Hair.

In a series of tales involving, among others, Arsène Wenger, Mos Def and Ben Okri, our City Editor Niq Mhlongo reveals the problems of authorial mistaken identity.

From our Photo Editor Victor Dlamini this month, feast your eyes on original portraits of the writers Chibundu Onuzo and Michela Wrong.

And finally, in our poetry section this month, Rethabile Masilo pays tribute to Peter Horn, the hugely influential poet, writer and teacher who passed away last month. RIP.

Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 3, Issue 8, which you will also find on our issue archive page:



The JRB exclusive: The Short Story Day Africa Prize-winning stories

Book excerpt


City Editor




The JRB Daily

Header image: Simon van Schalkwyk

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