Karen Jennings, Yagnishsing Dawoor, Sindi-Leigh McBride, Thulani Angoma-Mzini, Agatha Zaza, Wamuwi Mbao, Lidudumalingani, Ben Williams, Victor Dlamini, Saaleha Idrees Bamjee, Sisonke Msimang, Pumla Dineo Gqola, Brandon Taylor, Futhi Ntshingila, Mandla Langa, Ashraf Kagee, Razina Theba, António Tomás, Lisa Taddeo
Welcome to the fourth issue of Volume 5 of The Johannesburg Review of Books.
This month, Editor Jennifer Malec chats to Karen Jennings about how An Island, recently longlisted for the Booker Prize, almost made her decide ‘to give up writing and to rethink my life’. We also feature an excerpt from the novel.
Wamuwi Mbao reviews Sorrowland, the new novel by Rivers Solomon, which features ‘a compellingly affecting hero figure for the remaking of the human’, Yagnishsing Dawoor reviews Ananda Devi’s When the Night Agrees to Speak to Me, an ‘impassioned investigation of the possibilities of feminist rage’, and Sindi-Leigh McBride writes how Fernweh, Teju Cole’s latest photobook, feels like a palliative moment amid the uncertainty, loss and raw grief of the pandemic.
In the context of increasing scrutiny on the literary production of white writers, The JRB Publisher Ben Williams offers up some ideas on the cultural assumptions that underpin how white writing operates.
Thulani Angoma-Mzini presents an appraisal of the stories that appeared on this year’s Caine Prize shortlist, a showcase of the best of the past year’s African writing.
We feature new short fiction by Agatha Zaza, and poetry by Saaleha Idrees Bamjee, from her award-winning collection Zikr.
Our guest City Editor Lidudumalingani gives deference to the worshippers who gather in the streets, parks and open lands of Johannesburg.
There’s a feast of fiction in this issue. In addition to an excerpt from An Island, we feature extracts from Brandon Taylor’s new short story collection Filthy Animals, Mandla Langa’s forthcoming novel The Lost Language of the Soul, Ashraf Kagee’s By the Fading Light, Futhi Ntshingila’s forthcoming novel They Got To You Too, as well as Animal, the debut novel by bestselling author Lisa Taddeo.
In our sampling of new non-fiction, read excerpts from Sisonke Msimang’s essay on grief, from the new collection Our Ghosts Were Once People: Stories on Death and Dying, edited by Bongani Kona; Female Fear Factory, the highly anticipated new book from Pumla Dineo Gqola; Razina Theba’s new memoir A Home on Vorster Street; and an exclusive excerpt from António Tomás’s Amílcar Cabral: The Life of a Reluctant Nationalist.
From our Photo Editor Victor Dlamini this month, a portrait of a time more than of a writer, although the image contains two writers. The time, of course, is of before.
Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 5, Issue 4, which you will also find on our issue archive page:
- A flaming dispatch from Ananda Devi’s ‘evil twin’—Yagnishsing Dawoor reviews When the Night Agrees to Speak to Me
- ‘A compellingly affecting hero figure for the remaking of the human’—Wamuwi Mbao reviews Sorrowland, the new novel by Rivers Solomon
- ‘To photograph Switzerland is to rephotograph it’—Sindi-Leigh McBride reviews Fernweh, Teju Cole’s latest photobook
- ‘I decided to give up writing and to rethink my life’—Karen Jennings chats to Jennifer Malec about her Booker Prize-longlisted novel, An Island
- How to write like a white person—Ben Williams presents notes towards a framework for reading white fiction’s ‘literature of success’
- ‘Exploring the recesses of loss with elegance’—Thulani Angoma-Mzini contemplates the 2021 Caine Prize shortlist
- [City Editor] In communion—Lidudumalingani gives deference to the worshippers who gather in the streets, parks and open lands of Johannesburg
New short fiction
- ‘He could hear it. A sound that made his back grow cold, made the hair on his arms rise. It was the sound of bones’—Read an excerpt from An Island by Karen Jennings
- ‘He missed hamburgers terribly sometimes’—Read an excerpt from Brandon Taylor’s new short story collection Filthy Animals
- ‘Whatever Sobhuza does, he ensures that he leaves no trace’—Read an excerpt from Mandla Langa’s forthcoming novel The Lost Language of the Soul
- ‘The Pit was a place steeped in gloom, where people seldom went, and where certainly no one went alone’—Read an excerpt from Ashraf Kagee’s new novel By the Fading Light
- ‘All the talk about this virus leaves me hoping I contract the bloody thing before I have to face anything more about my past’—Read an excerpt from Futhi Ntshingila’s forthcoming novel They Got To You Too
- ‘I can tell you a lot about sex with a man to whom you are not attracted’—Read an excerpt from Lisa Taddeo’s debut novel Animal
- ‘Grief—a word that seemed too small to encompass the world I had been plunged into’—Read Sisonke Msimang’s essay from Our Ghosts Were Once People: Stories on Death and Dying
- ‘The violators were in breach of the unwritten codes that make for proper new South Africanness’—Read ‘Foreign Familiars’, from Pumla Dineo Gqola’s new book Female Fear Factory
- ‘These are the nuances of poverty’—Read an excerpt from Razina Theba’s new memoir A Home on Vorster Street
- ‘He was no longer working for the colonial state, and had fully taken on his revolutionary status’—Read an excerpt from Amílcar Cabral: The Life of a Reluctant Nationalist
Exclusive: Read the Short Story Day Africa winning stories
- Read ‘Five Years Next Sunday’ by Idza Luhumyo, winner of the 2019/20 Short Story Day Africa Prize
- Read ‘Shelter’ by Mbozi Haimbe, 1st Runner-up in the 2019/20 Short Story Day Africa Prize
- Read ‘Static’ by Alithnayn Abdulkareem, 2nd Runner-up in the 2019/20 Short Story Day Africa Prize
The JRB Daily
- [The JRB Daily] 2021 Booker Prize longlist announced—including Damon Galgut, Karen Jennings and Nadifa Mohamed
- [The JRB Daily] Meron Hadero wins the 2021 Caine Prize for African Writing—becoming the first Ethiopian writer to take the award
- [The JRB Daily] 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize winner announced
- [The JRB Daily] Tsitsi Dangarembga wins 2021 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade for her ‘inimitable storytelling’
- [The JRB Daily] South African poet Maneo Refiloe Mohale wins Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry
- [The JRB Daily] Short Story Day Africa Prize ‘Disruption’ winners announced—judges impressed with the ‘calibre and imaginative reach’ of the stories