The Johannesburg Review of Books Vol. 5, Issue 3 (June 2021)

Wamuwi Mbao, Efemia Chela, Robert Jones Jr, Athambile Masola, Lidudumalingani, Simon van Schalkwyk, Damon Galgut, Mark Gevisser, Adekeye Adebajo, Myesha Jenkins, Keith Lewis, Nqobile Lombo, Busisiwe Mahlangu, Mthabisi Sithole, Xabiso Vili, David Diop, Tymon Smith, Victor Dlamini, Naledi Mashishi, Olivette Otele, Trevor Ngwane, Pumla Dineo Gqola, Lewis Nkosi, Dambudzo Marechera

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

This month, Wamuwi Mbao reviews Susan Abulhawa’s Against The Loveless World, winner of the Palestine Book Award; Simon van Schalkwyk reviews Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel since his Nobel Prize; and Athambile Masola looks into the social complexity and political depth of the Manyano Women’s movement through Lihle Ngcobozi’s Mothers of the Nation.

Contributing Editor Efemia Chela speaks to Robert Jones Jr about Black and queer representation, the normality of magic, and his wave-making debut novel, The Prophets, and Mark Gevisser chats to Damon Galgut about the nuts and bolts of his critically-acclaimed new novel, The Promise.

As we approach the bicentennial of the birth of British writer Charles Dickens, Adekeye Adebajo conducts a survey of his extensive literary connections with Africa.

Our guest City Editor Lidudumalingani considers the re-mapping of the city by the hidden brutality lurking in the Johannesburg skyline.

There’s a feast of poetry in this issue. We feature work by Keith Lewis, Nqobile Lombo, Busisiwe Mahlangu, Mthabisi Sithole and Xabiso Vili, selected from Yesterdays and Imagining Realities: An Anthology of South African Poetry, as well as an exclusive excerpts from Thirty Five Poems by the late Myesha Jenkins, and the new edition of Cemetery of Mind by the late Dambudzo Marechera.

In our sampling of new books, read an exclusive excerpt from Lewis Nkosi’s play Flying Home, from a new volume on his work; an excerpt from Miriam Tlali: Writing Freedom, the latest book by Pumla Dineo Gqola, which brings together original writing, analyses, and, for the first time, the text of Tlali’s previously unpublished play Crimen Injuria; and we reveal Aleksandr Pushkin’s African heritage in an excerpt from Olivette Otele’s African Europeans: An Untold History, which was recently shortlisted for the Orwell Prize. We also present an excerpt from Trevor Ngwane’s forthcoming book Amakomiti: Grassroots Democracy in South African Shack Settlements.

In new fiction, read an excerpt from Naledi Mashishi’s debut novel, Invisible Strings, and an excerpt from David Diop’s International Booker Prize-winning novel At Night All Blood Is Black.

From our Photo Editor Victor Dlamini this month, a portrait of the late Bhekisizwe Peterson, who sadly passed away this week.

You can also view an excerpt from the dynamic new publication African Cosmologies: Photography, Time, and the Other, including photography by Zanele Muholi, Hélène A Amouzou and Wilfred Ukpong.

And, while you’re reading, listen to a Midwinter’s Musical Tale, compiled by Tymon Smith.

Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 5, Issue 3, which you will also find on our issue archive page:




City Editor


New non-fiction






The JRB Daily

Cover image: Jennifer Malec

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