Shayera Dark • Wamuwi Mbao • Dimakatso Sedite • Carey Baraka • Karen Jennings • Tjawangwa Dema • Karin Schimke • Namwali Serpell • Tsitsi Dangarembga • Jim Pascual Agustin • Abdourahman A Waberi • Patric Tariq Mellet • Kneo Mokgopa • Juby Mayet • Kwasi Konadu • Victor Dlamini • Jennifer Malec
Welcome to the fifth issue of Volume 6 of The Johannesburg Review of Books!
In this issue, Shayera Dark reviews Ayanna Lloyd Banwo’s debut novel When We Were Birds—one part magical realism, one part crime thriller, one part romance, rendered entirely in patois; Wamuwi Mbao finds Elif Batuman’s Either/Or a new and worthy entry into the well-populated gallery of erudite books about people learning how to live in the world; and Dimakatso Sedite considers Teamhw SbonguJesu’s debut collection of poetry, Bury Me Naked, which delivers a conscientious, humorous, much-needed lesson in a poetics of voice that is sure of itself.
Carey Baraka ruminates on parties with a purpose—the influence of literary get-togethers on Kenya’s writing scene. Karin Schimke visits Paulet House, home of the much-appreciated Jakes Gerwel Foundation writer’s residency.
Booker-longlisted author Karen Jennings was in conversation with The JRB Editor Jennifer Malec as part of Wits University’s 2022 centenary celebrations. Read the conversation in this issue, and listen to a world-exclusive reading from Jennings’s new novel, Crooked Seeds.
In our poetry section, we present new work from Tjawangwa Dema’s collection an/other pastoral—out now in South Africa.
In our survey of new fiction, read an exclusive excerpt from Namwali Serpell’s highly anticipated new novel The Furrows, and dip into Why Do You Dance When You Walk by Djiboutian novelist Abdourahman A Waberi, winner of a 2021 English PEN Translates Award and now available in English.
We also present an exclusive extract from Tsitsi Dangarembga’s powerful new collection of essays Black and Female; ‘Various Histories’, a thoughtful biographical piece by the poet Jim Pascual Agustin; an excerpt from Patric Tariq Mellet’s new autobiography Cleaner’s Boy: A Resistance Road to a Liberated Life; a sample from Freedom Writer, the memoir of the late legendary journalist Juby Mayet; and a section of the Introduction of the significant new book Many Black Women of this Fortress: Graça, Mónica and Adwoa, Three Enslaved Women of Portugal’s African Empire by Kwasi Konadu.
In short fiction, read ‘Siyawa (What Would Happen if Madiba Returned?)’ by Kneo Mokgopa, from the new collection Our Move Next: Digital Folklore.
From our Photo Editor Victor Dlamini this month, a portrait of Karen Jennings.
Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 6, Issue 5, which you will also find on our issue archive page:
- One part magical realism, one part crime thriller, one part romance, rendered entirely in patois—Shayera Dark reviews Ayanna Lloyd Banwo’s When We Were Birds
- ‘It is heartening to read introspective characters who don’t believe everything they think is interesting’—Wamuwi Mbao reviews Elif Batuman’s new novel Either/Or
- ‘Unapologetic, evocative and darkly humorous’—Dimakatso Sedite reviews Bury Me Naked, the debut collection of poetry from Teamhw SbonguJesu
- The party has a purpose—Carey Baraka considers the influence of literary get-togethers on Kenya’s writing scene
- ‘When the Booker longlisting happened, I thought, oh, I’m going to have to start writing again’—Karen Jennings chats to Jennifer Malec about writing, fame and loneliness (Plus: exclusive audio)
- Helping new perspectives and worlds of experience be heard—Karin Schimke visits Paulet House, home of the Jakes Gerwel Foundation writer’s residency
- [The JRB exclusive] ‘Over the months, we found more and more of Wayne’s drawings, those bundles of thin lines on the walls’—Read an excerpt from Namwali Serpell’s new novel The Furrows
- ‘I danced a saraband with my parents. Their love dissolved my old fear’—Read an excerpt from Abdourahman A Waberi’s award-winning novel Why Do You Dance When You Walk
- ‘I remember the day Nelson Mandela returned, exactly thirty years after his death’—Read Siyawa by Kneo Mokgopa, from Our Move Next
- [The JRB exclusive] ‘The first wound for all of us who are classified as “black” is empire’—Read an excerpt from Tsitsi Dangarembga’s new book Black and Female
- ‘No meaningful change can come from those who seek only power’—Read ‘Various Histories’, an essay by Jim Pascual Agustin
- ‘I was an identity-less person at the mercy of apartheid officials’—Read an excerpt from Cleaner’s Boy: A Resistance Road to a Liberated Life by Patric Tariq Mellet
- ‘There was a heated discussion about me going to work for this “native” paper’—Read an excerpt from Freedom Writer, the memoir of legendary journalist Juby Mayet
- The lives of ordinary African women who did not submit to empire—Read an excerpt from Kwasi Konadu’s new book Many Black Women of this Fortress
The JRB Daily
- 2022 South African Literary Awards winners announced
- Mignonne Breier and Tshidiso Moletsane win the 2022 Sunday Times Literary Awards
- Island Prize for a Debut Novel from Africa call for submissions
- ‘An afterlife noir that dissolves the boundaries of life and death, east and west’—Shehan Karunatilaka wins 2022 Booker Prize for The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida
- Annie Ernaux receives the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature
- 2022 UJ Prizes for South African Writing in English winners announced
- Shortlists announced for 2022 UJ Prizes for South African Writing in English (Plus: winners of Creative Writing in isiZulu and Sesotho sa Leboa, and Literary Translation)