Morabo Morojele • Yewande Omotoso • Imraan Coovadia • Makhosazana Xaba • Wamuwi Mbao • Eckard Smuts • Jarred Thompson • Meron Hadero • Sebastian Murdoch • Po Bhattacharyya • Ben Williams • Hemley Boum • Okechukwu Nzelu • Sarah Lubala • Leye Adenle • Akbar Hussain • Lodewyk G du Plessis • Saleh Addonia • Shevlyn Mottai • Masande Ntshanga • Lidudumalingani • Laila Manack • Sue Nyathi • Zaheera Jina Asvat • Victor Forna • Thabile Shange • Almini van der Merwe • Maggie O’Farrell • Victor Dlamini • Tymon Smith
Welcome to the sixth issue of Volume 6 of The Johannesburg Review of Books—our sixth annual Fiction Issue!
Johannesburg has been tough to live in recently. Tougher than usual. The roads are disintegrating, the power is evaporating, the supply of water is intermittent, the rain is unsettlingly incessant, the trees are mysteriously falling down. Then, just in time, December arrived, and South Africans did what they do best—we shut it down. The seasonal joy in Joburg right now is palpable, and pleasantly contagious. The sentiment seems to be: we’re taking a break from the crisis. So, behold, our annual Fiction Issue, the perfect accessory to your newly acquired avoidance technique. After all, as Hemley Boum writes in this issue, ‘Literature gave me the means to escape my reality.’
At the end of this year, with this issue, we cross 1450 articles published to date. That’s over six volumes, fifty-four issues, almost six years. We can’t quite believe it either.
And so, in our 2022 Fiction Issue, read new short fiction from Makhosazana Xaba, Eckard Smuts, Wamuwi Mbao and Ben Williams, as well as exclusive first-looks at works in progress by Yewande Omotoso, Imraan Coovadia, Sebastian Murdoch and Po Bhattacharyya.
We also feature excerpts from a number of exciting forthcoming novels and short story collections, by Morabo Morojele, Meron Hadero, Jarred Thompson, Zaheera Jina Asvat and Almini van der Merwe.
In the category ‘books so new you probably haven’t heard of them yet’, find excerpts from works by Hemley Boum, Leye Adenle and Akbar Hussain. And in the category ‘books you should have read in 2022’ (apart from those we’ve already covered in The JRB, of course), there’s top-notch writing from Saleh Addonia, Nzelu Okechukwu, Victor Forna, Lodewyk G du Plessis, Shevlyn Mottai, Sue Nyathi, Laila Manack, Maggie O’Farrell, Masande Ntshanga and Thabile Shange.
We also feature poetry by Sara Lubala, while our Photo Editor Victor Dlamini shares a portrait of Teju Cole.
Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 6, Issue 6, which you will also find on our issue archive page:
New short fiction
- ‘The Auction’, a new short story by Makhosazana Xaba
- ‘Let The Worms Have It’, a new short story by Eckard Smuts
- ‘Sebenza’, a new short story by Wamuwi Mbao
- ‘Let That Sink In’, a psest by Ben Williams
- Read an excerpt from Lidudumalingani’s new short story ‘Everywhere, Nowhere’, excerpted from the new edition of Imbiza
Works in progress
- Read an excerpt from Yewande Omotoso’s work in progress, Nine Lives of The General
- Read an excerpt from Po Bhattacharyya’s work in progress, Animal Behavior
- Read an excerpt from Imraan Coovadia’s work in progress, An Enemy of the People
- Read an excerpt from Sebastian Murdoch’s work in progress, Strange Vibrations
- Read an excerpt from Morabo Morojele’s forthcoming novel, Three Egg Dilemma
- Read ‘The Floating House’, an exclusive excerpt from Meron Hadero’s debut, A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times
- Read an exclusive excerpt from Jarred Thompson’s forthcoming debut novel, The Institute for Creative Dying
- Read an excerpt from Almini van der Merwe’s forthcoming debut, Ghost Limb
- Read an excerpt from Zaheera Jina Asvat’s forthcoming short story collection, Tears of the Weaver
Books so new you probably haven’t heard of them yet
- ‘That boy is a snake, I’m telling you … A green snake in green grass’—Read an excerpt from Leye Adenle’s new novel, Unfinished Business
- ‘I would be dead if not for books’—Read an excerpt from Hemley Boum’s prize-winning novel, Days Come and Go
- ‘Aid worker. Smuggler. Time bomb.’—Read an excerpt from Akbar Hussain’s debut Nairobi crime novel, Truth Is a Flightless Bird
Books you should have read in 2022 (apart from those we’ve already covered in The JRB, of course)
- ‘We can’t treat her here. You know the rules.’—Read an excerpt from Sue Nyathi’s latest novel, An Angel’s Demise
- ‘A Boer doesn’t flutter around a cloud of lightning bolts and thundercracks like a moth around a rotten apple’—Read an excerpt from Lodewyk G du Plessis’s debut novel, The Dao of Daniel
- Read ‘teachers’, a short story by Masande Ntshanga
- ‘We thought she’d welcome us. We thought it was simple’—Read an excerpt from Saleh Addonia’s short story, ‘She is Another Country’
- ‘What’s Nigeria got to do with us? … They hate us there.’—Read an excerpt from Okechukwu Nzelu’s novel, Here Again Now
- Read an excerpt from Victor Forna’s short story, ‘They Will Fly with Blooded Wings’, from the Caine Prize anthology A Mind to Silence and Other Stories
- ‘As if with an invisible thread, they were bound together by their circumstances’—Read an excerpt from Shevlyn Mottai’s debut novel, Across the Kala Pani
- ‘You’ll appeal more to audiences who’ve never seen people like you’—Read an excerpt from Laila Manack’s debut novel, Sisters of the Circus
- ‘You need a plan … To lose your temper is to lose the battle’—Read an excerpt from Maggie O’Farrell’s novel, The Marriage Portrait
- ‘My brother realised that he married a witch!’—Read an excerpt from Thabile Shange’s debut adult novel, In the Midst of It All