Wole Soyinka, Wamuwi Mbao, Shayera Dark, Joanne Ruth Davis, Lebohang Mojapelo, Lidudumalingani, Imraan Coovadia, Jennifer Malec, Rešoketšwe Manenzhe, Nthikeng Mohlele, Mark Espin, Adekeye Adebajo, Jenny Robson, Fatima Okhousami, Okpanachi Irene Ojochegbe, Dominique Botha, Thula Simpson, Jeanne-Marie Jackson, Fiston Mwanza Mujila, Susan Williams, John Marnell, Tymon Smith, Victor Dlamini, Perfect Hlongwane, Akwaeke Emezi, Isobel Dixon, Achmat Dangor, and the inaugural Kendeka Prize winners
Welcome to the fifth issue of Volume 5 of The Johannesburg Review of Books.
This month, Wamuwi Mbao is pleasantly surprised by Misfits: A Personal Manifesto, the new book by Michaela Coel, creator and star of the hit TV show I May Destroy You; Joanne Ruth Davis reviews The Wanderers by Mphuthumi Ntabeni—‘the voice of contemporary South African fiction’—and Shayera Dark reviews Ogadinma: Or, Everything Will Be All Right by Ukamaka Olisakwe.
Lebohang Mojapelo sat down, virtually, with Wole Soyinka, to talk about Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth—the Nobel Laureate’s first novel in fifty years.
Award-winning author Imraan Coovadia chats to The JRB Editor Jennifer Malec about the mechanisms of good and evil, emailing Wouter Basson, and his new book, The Poisoners.
‘Often we know ourselves and other people by the stories we construct’—we reveal writing advice from Abdulrazak Gurnah, recent recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature.
To mark the twentieth anniversary of the publication of our founding Patron, the late Achmat Dangor’s seminal work of South African literature, Bitter Fruit, we present an excerpt from the book, prefaced by a publishing history by his longtime agent, the poet Isobel Dixon.
Elsewhere in the issue, read an excerpt from ‘Dinner with Dambudzo’ a new short story by Nthikeng Mohlele, from his new collection The Discovery of Love; dip into Hauntings, a forthcoming anthology edited by Niq Mhlongo, with Rešoketšwe Manenzhe; and sample Sanity Prevail, the new novel by Perfect Hlongwane.
Fiston Mwanza Mujila makes an appearance in this issue, with his new short story ‘The Lumumba Business’, from a new collection The American Way: Stories of Invasion, edited by Ra Page and Orsola Casagrande.
The JRB also exclusively presents the three winning stories from the inaugural Kendeka Prize for African Literature: ‘the best stories written by people with citizenship to an African country’.
If non-fiction is your bag, we feature an edited excerpt from the Introduction to The Pan-African Pantheon: Prophets, Poets and Philosophers by Adekeye Adebajo; recall the looting that was broadcast across the world in an exclusive excerpt from History of South Africa: From 1902 to the Present by Thula Simpson; and explore trans-continental immigration to South Africa from an LGBTQI perspective via an excerpt from John Marnell’s Seeking Sanctuary: Stories of Sexuality, Faith and Migration.
We also present excerpts from Jeanne-Marie Jackson’s new book The African Novel of Ideas: Philosophy and Individualism in the Age of Global Writing; Akwaeke Emezi’s Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir; and White Malice: The CIA and the Neocolonisation of Africa, by Susan Williams.
In our poetry section this month, read new work by Mark Espin, from his new pamphlet, April in Blank Verse. We also feature an excerpt from Donkerberg/Bloodwood, a bilingual anthology by the award-winning writer Dominique Botha.
Our guest City Editor Lidudumalingani shares eleven observations aobut the city.
From our Photo Editor Victor Dlamini this month, a portrait of Greg Tate in Johannesburg.
And while you’re reading, listen to love and sex, hope and freedom, a playlist compiled by Tymon Smith.
Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 5, Issue 5, which you will also find on our issue archive page:
- ‘Startlingly good’—Wamuwi Mbao reviews Misfits: A Personal Manifesto by Michaela Coel, creator and star of the hit TV show I May Destroy You
- ‘This is the voice of contemporary South African fiction’—Joanne Ruth Davis reviews Mphuthumi Ntabeni’s new novel The Wanderers
- Even for women brave enough to reclaim their lives, external forces stand ready to keep them confined—Shayera Dark reviews Ukamaka Olisakwe’s Ogadinma: Or, Everything Will Be All Right
- ‘Where is the last rational place left in the world, for heaven’s sake?’—Lebohang Mojapelo interviews Wole Soyinka on his new novel, Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth
- ‘Wouter Basson didn’t reply to my queries’—Imraan Coovadia chats to Jennifer Malec about his new book The Poisoners: On South Africa’s Toxic Past
- The 20th anniversary of Bitter Fruit by Achmat Dangor—an excerpt, and a brief publishing history
- ‘Often we know ourselves and other people by the stories we construct’—Read Abdulrazak Gurnah on how to write fiction
- ‘At night, Jozi is dead, unless you are the killer’—11 observations about the city, by Lidudumalingani
New short fiction
- Read an excerpt from ‘Dinner with Dambudzo’ by Nthikeng Mohlele, from his new short story collection The Discovery of Love
- ‘If you dodge your death enough times, fate stops trying to find you’—Read an excerpt from Rešoketšwe Manenzhe’s new short story ‘Ramosela’, from Hauntings
- Read an excerpt from ‘The Lumumba Business’, a new story by Fiston Mwanza Mujila, from The American Way: Stories of Invasion
- ‘What is the meaning of this hallucination that refuses to end?’—Read an excerpt from Perfect Hlongwane’s new novel Sanity Prevail
- Understanding Pan-Africanist struggles for global slavery and colonialism reparations, by Adekeye Adebajo
- The looting that was broadcast across the world—Read an excerpt from History of South Africa by Thula Simpson
- ‘It is dangerous to be gay in Uganda’—Read the personal experience of Angel, a 32-year-old asylum seeker, from Seeking Sanctuary: Stories of Sexuality, Faith and Migration
- ‘Nothing, virtually no project, no cultural initiative, was left unbrushed by the CIA reptilian coils’—Wole Soyinka. Read an excerpt from White Malice: The CIA and the Neocolonisation of Africa
- ‘Tendai Huchu’s Maestro of Lonely Learning’—Read an excerpt from The African Novel of Ideas by Jeanne-Marie Jackson
- ‘You gave me permission to lean into the terrible, of both myself and the people I wrote into existence’—Read an excerpt from Akwaeke Emezi’s new book Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir
Exclusive: Read the Kendeka Prize for African Literature winning stories
- Read ‘Water for Wine’ by Jenny Robson, winner of the 2021 Kendeka Prize
- Read ‘The Women of Atinga House’ by Fatima Okhuosami, first runner-up in the 2021 Kendeka Prize
- Read ‘Au Pair’ by Okpanachi Irene Ojochegbe, second runner-up in the 2021 Kendeka Prize
The JRB Daily
- UJ Prizes for South African Writing in English winners announced
- ‘I thought it was a prank, I really did’—Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature
- 2021 South African Literary Awards shortlists revealed
- 2021 Kendeka Prize for African Literature winners announced
- Marguerite Poland and Andrew Harding win the 2021 Sunday Times/CNA Literary Awards
- The 2021 Booker Prize for Fiction shortlist is announced—including Damon Galgut and Nadifa Mohamed
- ‘It is the book I never thought I would get to write. I never thought I’d be well enough’—Susanna Clarke wins 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction for Piranesi