Shayera Dark • Timothy Wright • Wamuwi Mbao •
Nozuko Siyotula • Joanne Joseph • Abbey Khambule • Athambile Masola • Nkiacha Atemnkeng • Siphiwo Mahala • Alistair Mackay • Nikki May • Lebo Mazibuko • Sanya Osha • Jacques Coetzee • Makhosazana Xaba • Véronique Tadjo • Scholastique Mukasonga • Jennifer Malec • Victor Dlamini • Tymon Smith
Welcome to the first issue of Volume 6 of The Johannesburg Review of Books—our first for 2022.
This month, Shayera Dark reviews Lola Akinmade Åkerström’s nuanced and engaging novel In Every Mirror She’s Black; while Timothy Wright reviews Claiming the City in South African Literature by Meg Samuelson, a much needed corrective to literary criticism’s rural bias.
Elsewhere in the issue, Wamuwi Mbao talks to Jason Mott about his National Book Award-winning novel Hell of a Book; Joanne Joseph chats about history, migrancy and her debut novel, Children of Sugarcane, Siphiwo Mahala shares some background on his new play, Bloke and His American Bantu, on stage now at the UJ Arts Centre in Johannesburg; and Nozuko Siyotula discusses family, how the personal becomes political, and her debut novel, Christopher.
Nkiacha Atemnkeng shares an email exchange he had with Granta editors in a piece we’ve called ‘How to Write About Africa revisited—notes on catalysing a moment of literary reparations’.
We feature a poetic piece of flash fiction by Abbey Khambule, ‘The Burning Fruit’, as well as new poetry by Jacques Coetzee, a veteran of the Cape Town poetry scene.
This month, we also present an excerpt from The JRB Patron Makhosazana Xaba’s new collection of poetry, The Art of Waiting for Tales: Found Poetry from Grace—part of an ongoing project of Xaba’s—namely, making found poetry from South African women’s writing.
Sanya Osha shares a tribute to Francis B Nyamnjoh, on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday.
We also present extracts from Ilifa, Athambile Masola’s new isiXhosa collection of poetry; It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way, the debut novel from Alistair Mackay; Wahala, the new novel by Nikki May; and Bantu Knots, the debut novel from Lebo Mazibuko.
From our Photo Editor Victor Dlamini this month, a portrait of NoViolet Bulawayo, whose much anticipated second novel, Glory, will be published in March.
And while you’re reading, listen to ‘Don’t mention Ukraine’, a playlist compiled by Tymon Smith.
Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 6, Issue 1, which you will also find on our issue archive page:
- ‘No reprieve from the myriad invisible cuts inflicted by a society hostile to the colour of their skin’—Shayera Dark reviews Lola Akinmade Akerstrom’s In Every Mirror She’s Black
- A much needed corrective to literary criticism’s rural bias—Timothy Wright reviews Claiming the City in South African Literature by Meg Samuelson
- ‘It was a book I told friends no one would ever read’—Wamuwi Mbao talks to Jason Mott about his National Book Award-winning novel Hell of a Book
- ‘You are simulating what happened to real people and that’s a searing thought’—Joanne Joseph discusses her historical novel, Children of Sugarcane
- ‘They wrote to each other frequently, exchanged intellectual banter, confided in each other’—Siphiwo Mahala chats about his new play, Bloke and His American Bantu
- ‘To my mind, the family is the most important political space’—Nozuko Siyotula chats about her debut novel, Christopher
- The Granta emails, or How to Write About Africa revisited—notes on catalysing a moment of literary reparations, by Nkiacha Atemnkeng
- Francis B Nyamnjoh and the pleasant ironies of conviviality, by Sanya Osha
- New poetry by Jacques Coetzee
- ‘A manifestation of what it means to show up for one another as Black women writers’—Read an excerpt from Makhosazana Xaba’s new collection The Art of Waiting for Tales: Found Poetry from Grace
- Three poems by Athambile Masola, from Ilifa
- ‘Mama never told me she loved me. Mama couldn’t even say happy birthday to me’—Read an excerpt from Lebo Mazibuko’s debut novel, Bantu Knots
- ‘A dark, vast emptiness within, as boundless as the universe outside’—Read an excerpt from Alistair Mackay’s debut novel It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way
- ‘To them, being brown was an asset, not a liability. It meant you could always fit in’—Read an excerpt from Wahala, the new novel by Nikki May
- ‘The village is cursed. Don’t ever come back here.’—Read an excerpt from Véronique Tadjo’s In the Company of Men
- ‘If there had been any kings in Rwanda, it was better to forget them’—Read an excerpt from Scholastique Mukasonga’s Our Lady of the Nile
The JRB Daily
- [The JRB Daily] 2022 English Academy of Southern Africa Awards winners announced
- [The JRB Daily] Mary Watson wins 2022 Philida Literary Award for ‘an oeuvre of literary excellence’
- [JRB Daily] ‘A transformative figure in African literature’—Ngugi wa Thiong’o wins PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature
- [The JRB Daily] Top 10 of 2021—a look back at our most popular articles of the year