The Johannesburg Review of Books Vol. 3, Issue 9

Wamuwi Mbao • Patrick Flanery • Mapule Mohulatsi • Efemia Chela • Outlwile Tsipane Jennifer Malec Billy Kahora • Victor Dlamini Musawenkosi Khanyile Niq Mhlongo • Jonathan Cane • Sarah Ladipo Manyika



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

This month, Wamuwi Mbao reviews Colson Whitehead’s new novel The Nickel Boys, a cold B-side to the American Dream. Patrick Flanery reviews The Troubled Times of Magrieta Prinsloo by Ingrid Winterbach, who he calls ‘among the most gifted writers currently at work’ today. Efemia Chela marks Women In Translation Month with a review of Somali–Italian author Igiaba Scego’s newly translated English debut, Beyond Babylon. And Outlwile Tsipane reviews Helon Habila’s new novel, Travellers, calling it ‘a powerful commentary on displacement, and a stark condemnation of the powers that be’.

Elsewhere in the issue, Mapule Mohulatsi pays tribute to Toni Morrison, and weighs up the significance of her impact on and conversations with African writers.

We celebrate the publication of Black Tax: Burden or Ubuntu—a new collection of essays, edited by award-winning author and The JRB City Editor Niq Mhlongo—with an excerpt from the book, as well as an in-depth interview with some of the contributors.

We also delighted to present an exclusive excerpt from The Cape Cod Bicycle War and Other Stories, the much-anticipated new book by Billy Kahora, which Namwali Serpell says shows us ‘a millennial Kenya we’ve never seen in fiction before’.

From our Photo Editor Victor Dlamini this month, revel in two original portraits of Mbali Sikakana and Sisonke Msimang.

In our poetry section, we feature new work by Musawenkosi Khanyile, from his new collection All The Places.

An unruly space of despondency and hope, find out more about the history of Joubert Park in an excerpt from Civilising Grass: The Art of the Lawn on the South African Highveld by Jonathan Cane.

Bestselling author Sarah Ladipo Manyika will be at the Open Book Festival and South African Book Fair this September. We salute the ten-year-anniversary edition of her iconic novel In Dependence with an excerpt in this issue.

In Francophone news, find out more about Djiboutian author Abdourahman Waberi’s new book, Pourquoi tu danses quand tu marches?, as well as Patrice Nganang’s When the Plums Are Ripe, the second book in his trilogy about Cameroon before and after World War II, which has just been released in English.

The second edition of Read This!—a new show about books hosted by The JRB and Volume— will be out later today. Find out how to listen here. It’s free!

Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 3, Issue 9, which you will also find on our issue archive page:





Book excerpt

City Editor



Francophone news


The JRB Daily

Header image: Sabelo Mlangeni, from the new book Civilising Grass

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