The Johannesburg Review of Books Vol. 6, Issue 1 (February 2022)

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:






Book excerpts




The JRB Daily

Cover image: View from the Richmond vet/Jennifer Malec

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