The Johannesburg Review of Books Vol. 5, Issue 1 (February 2021)

Wamuwi Mbao, Lidudumalingani, Efemia Chela, Stephen Langtry, Lebohang Mojapelo, Kopano Maroga, Simon van Schalkwyk, Sanya Osha, Louisa Uchum Egbunike, Tymon Smith, Ijeoma Oluo, Lindiwe Nkutha, Brandon Taylor, William Dicey, Victor Dlamini

Welcome to the first issue of Volume 5 of The Johannesburg Review of Books.

We’re into our fifth year. Issa lot.

In our first issue of 2021, Wamuwi Mbao reviews Scatterlings by Rešoketšwe Manenzhe, winner of the Dinaane Debut Fiction Award, Stephen Langtry makes his JRB debut with a review of Martin Plaut’s new biography Dr Abdullah Abdurahman: South Africa’s First Elected Black Politician, and Lebohang Mojapelo delves into The Rise of the African Novel by Mukoma Wa Ngugi, a book that traces the way African literature has been a space to formulate and untangle African identity.

In interviews, Contributing Editor Efemia Chela chats to Raven Leilani about desire, contradictions, intimacy, and her debut novel Luster, and Guest City Editor Lidudumalingani talks to Academic Editor Simon van Schalkwyk about identity, memory, psychogeography, and his new poetry collection, Transcontinental Delay.

In our survey of new publications, we present excerpts from Sanya Osha’s Ken Saro-Wiwa’s Shadow: Politics, Nationalism and the Ogoni Protest Movement; William Dicey’s work of historical excavation, 1986; Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male Power by Ijeoma Oluo, the bestselling author of So You Want to Talk About Race; and Real Life, the acclaimed debut novel by Brandon Taylor. You can also dip into ‘Buchi Emecheta: The Burden of Exile’ by Louisa Uchum Egbunike, excerpted from The Pan-African Pantheon: Prophets, Poets and Philosophers.

Fans of short fiction may be interested in our excerpt from the title story of Lindiwe Nkutha’s debut collection, 69 Jerusalem Street.

We feature exciting new poetry from Kopano Maroga’s volume Jesus Thesis and Other Critical Fabulations, and Simon van Schalkwyk’s collection Transcontinental Delay.

From our Photo Editor Victor Dlamini this month, ‘History’, a portrait of remembrance.

And to accompany all this reading, we present ‘We’re still here’, a playlist to kick off 2021, compiled by Tymon Smith.

Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 5, Issue 1, which you will also find on our issue archive page:



Book excerpts

Short fiction





The JRB Daily

Cover image: Marshalltown/Jennifer Malec

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