The Johannesburg Review of Books Vol. 4, Issue 6 (July 2020)

Adam Smyer • Wamuwi Mbao • Nadia Davids • Hemley Boum •
Nkiacha Atemnkeng • Esther Mirembe • Stella Nyanzi •
Rofhiwa Maneta • Mary Carman • Lidudumalingani • Victor Dlamini •
Allan Kolski Horwitz • Leïla Slimani • Aravind Adiga • Grace Musila •
C Pam Zhang • Kopano Ratele • Zimitri Erasmus

Welcome to the sixth issue of Volume 4 of The Johannesburg Review of Books.

In this month’s edition, Adam Smyer, Wamuwi Mbao, Hemley Boum and Nkiacha Atemnkeng take a measure of the recent Black Lives Matter protests; where we have come from and where we may be going.

Also in this issue, in continuing solidarity with the progressive literary community and all who fight racism and anti-Black violence, The JRB presents this Pan-African Anti-Racism and Solidarity reading list: a spreadsheet comprising more than three hundred titles by African and diasporan writers that we hope will prove useful as a resource to those seeking works by Black authors.

In our reviews section, Rofhiwa Maneta shares his thoughts on Imani Perry’s memoir Breathe, a book committed to the radical hope that sees Black boys as more than problems to be solved.

We also feature a selection of excerpts from books that consider, carefully and thoughtfully, the place of race in modern society.

Elsewhere in the issue, Nadia Davids shares a moving personal essay on the first forty days of the Covid-19 lockdown from her vantage in Cape Town, Guest City Editor Lidudumalingani reflects on reading books that make you write, Mary Carman reviews Debating African Philosophy, and Stella Nyanzi chats to Esther Mirembe about her prison poetry collection No Roses from My Mouth.

We feature excerpts from exciting new novels by C Pam Zhang and Aravind Adiga, as well as an excerpt from Sifiso Mzobe’s debut novel Young Blood, to celebrate its new international publishing deal. We are also pleased to share an exclusive excerpt from Sex and Lies, the first work of non-fiction in English from award-winning Moroccan author Leïla Slimani.

Photo Editor Victor Dlamini has contributed an image of legendary photographer George Hallett, who passed away this week. You can also read Victor’s tribute to Brother George on The JRB Daily.

Finally, in our poetry section, Allan Kolski Horwitz tears up the page with ‘NO ONE IS SAFE’.

Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 4, Issue 6, which you will also find on our issue archive page:

Black Lives Matter


Reading List


Book excerpts

City Editor






Book excerpt



The JRB Daily

Cover image: Jennifer Malec

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