The Johannesburg Review of Books Vol. 6, Issue 3 (July 2022)

Shayera Dark • Wamuwi Mbao • Rustum Kozain Terry-Ann Adams • Lebohang Mojapelo • Warsan Shire • Lidudumalingani • Dipo Faloyin • Khanya Mtshali • Ntsika Kota • NoViolet Bulawayo • JG Jesman • Jill Bradbury • Khwezi Mkhize • Makhosazana Xaba • Rofhiwa Maneta • Bénédicte Savoy • Vijay Prashad • Nicky Falkof • Welcome Mandla Lishivha • Xolani S Ngazimbi • Jennifer Malec • Victor Dlamini • Tymon Smith

Welcome to the third issue of Volume 6 of The Johannesburg Review of Books!

In this issue, Shayera Dark reviews Noor Naga’s experimental debut novel If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English, winner of the Graywolf Press Africa Prize, and Wamuwi Mbao considers Kei Miller’s collection of essays Things I Have Withheld, a book that takes the measure of what it means to read and be read as raced.

We have a number of interviews for you to savour and enjoy this month. The JRB Editor Jennifer Malec talks to Terry-Ann Adams about writing, representation, and their new collection of short stories, White Chalk; Lebohang Mojapelo and Warsan Shire discuss that Beyoncé moment, the importance of bearing witness, and Shire’s new book, Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head; while Dipo Faloyin chats to Khanya Mtshali about his new book Africa is Not A Country: Breaking Stereotypes of Modern Africa. Elsewhere in the issue, we sit down with Eswatini’s first Commonwealth Short Story Prize winner Ntsika Kota.

Guest City Editor Lidudumalingani tells us all about his curatorship of this year’s African Book Festival in Berlin, and why ‘we’re not there to beg for a place on bookshelves in German bookshops but we’re there to demand it, to claim it’.

In new fiction, we present a taster from Glory, the highly anticipated new novel from NoViolet Bulawayo (like gold dust, this excerpt), as well as a sample from JG Jesman’s debut novel Chisoni, or Conversations on a Plane About Life and Death and a short story from Terry-Ann Adams’s White Chalk.

June marked a year since the passing of Professor Bhekizizwe Peterson, and we’re pleased to share a tribute to the man by Jill Bradbury, Khwezi Mkhize and Makhosazana Xaba, excerpted from the new book he co-edited, Foundational African Writers: Peter Abrahams, Noni Jabavu, Sibusiso Nyembezi and Es’kia Mphahlele.

In our poetry corner, we’re delighted to present previously unpublished poetry by Poetry Editor Rustum Kozain.

From our Photo Editor Victor Dlamini this month, a portrait of Nigerian-born American spoken-word artist, writer and mental health advocate Bassey Ikpi.

Our survey of new non-fiction includes extracts from Rofhiwa Maneta’s A Man, A Fire, A Corpse, a biography of his father, Captain Amos Maneta, ‘The Top Cop of Soweto’; Africa’s Struggle for Its Art: History of a Postcolonial Defeat by Bénédicte Savoy; Washington Bullets, the new book by Vijay Prashad; Worrier State: Risk, Anxiety and Moral Panic in South Africa by Nicky Falkof; Welcome Mandla Lishivha’s new ‘istant classic’ memoir Boy on the Run; and finally an excerpt from ‘What’s in a name?’, Xolani S Ngazimbi’s essay from Racism, Violence, Betrayals and New Imaginaries: Feminist Voices, edited by Nadia Sanger and Benita Moolman.

And while you’re reading, enjoy ‘Sakifo to get you through the loadshedding’, a playlist compiled by Tymon Smith.

Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 6, Issue 3, which you will also find on our issue archive page:



City Editor


Fiction excerpts

New non-fiction



The JRB Daily

Cover image: Aloes make Joburg winter bearable/Jennifer Malec

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