The Johannesburg Review of Books Vol. 3, Issue 12 (December 2019, The Fiction Issue)

Abubakar Adam Ibrahim • Yewande Omotoso • Lelissa Girma • Sabata-mpho Mokae • Craig Higginson • Mphuthumi Ntabeni • Sifiso Mzobe • Kirsten Miller • Yovanka Paquete Perdigao • Sebastian Murdoch • Jarred Thompson • Khanya Mtshali • Agatha Zaza • Alastair Bruce • Litha Hermanus • Olivia M Coetzee • Zanta Nkumane • Cheluchi Onyemelukwe • Franki Jenkins • Victor Dlamini • Lidudumalingani • Gratiagusti Chananya Rompas • Mikael Johani


Welcome to the twelfth issue of Volume 3 of The Johannesburg Review of Books—our third annual Fiction Issue!

This is a powerful collection of words. Its power is, however, almost entirely figurative, and so I was not able to use it to operate my computer during the electricity outages that plagued The JRB’s HQ over the past few days, which is why you are receiving this issue 24 hours later than we intended.

But we’d like to suggest it was worth the wait.

Continuing in the tradition we established in last year’s Fiction Issue, we have collected a range of excerpts from works in progress by some of our favourite authors, including Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Yewande Omotoso and Cheluchi Onyemelukwe, as well as sneak previews from a selection of novels and short story collections that will be coming your way in 2020, including work by Alastair Bruce, Litha Hermanus, Craig Higginson, Kirsten Miller, Sifiso Mzobe and Mphuthumi Ntabeni.

The original short fiction we have gathered for this issue travels from Johannesburg to Addis Ababa and on to Mississippi, drops in on Singapore, via Zambia, before winding up the tour with a few days in small town South Africa. We’re pleased to present the fiction debuts of Sebastian Murdoch and Zanta Nkumane, as well as new writing by Lelissa Girma, Franki Jenkins, Khanya Mtshali, Jarred Thompson and Agatha Zaza.

Elsewhere in the issue, we feature an excerpt from Sabata-mpho Mokae’s Sala award-winning Setswana novel, Moletlo wa Manong, Olivia M Coetzee’s newly published novel Innie Shadows, which is written in Kaaps, and a piece by Yovanka Paquete Perdigao from Bakwa 09: Taxi Drivers Who Drive Us Nowhere and other Travel Stories, a compilation of non-fiction that’s as transporting (!) as fiction.

As guest City Editor this month, Lidudumalingani meditates on the atmosphere that prevails in a migrant city like Johannesburg during the holiday month of December.

Thanks to the facilitation of our Poetry Editor Rustum Kozain, who was a guest of the Jogja Literary Festival in Indonesia in August this year, we are pleased to present a poem by Indonesian poet Gratiagusti Chananya Rompas, translated by Mikael Johani.

And finally, from our Photo Editor Victor Dlamini, we present original portraits of Unathi Magubeni and Aja Monet.

Enjoy the issue, and let us know what you think on Facebook or Twitter.

Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 3, Issue 12, which you will also find on our issue archive page:

Works in progress

Debut short fiction

New short fiction

Read This! The JRB’s Literary Podcast, produced with Volume

Forthcoming works

Book excerpts



City Editor

The JRB Daily


Header image: Swimming pool, Graton Guest House by Jeppestown on Flickr

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Required fields are marked *