The Johannesburg Review of Books Vol. 7, Issue 2 (May 2023)

Makhosazana Xaba • Katleho Kano Shoro • Wamuwi Mbao • Lucy Mushita • Fungai Machirori • María Fernanda Ampuero • Mxolisi Nyezwa • Joel Cabrita • Simon van Schalkwyk • PR Anderson • Hugo ka Canham • Gothataone Moeng • Lethokuhle Msimang • Siphokazi Magadla • Kyle Allan • K Sello Duiker • Xolisa Guzula • Keith Oliver Lewis • George Hull • Sihle Qwabe • Victor Dlamini • Tymon Smith

Welcome to the second issue of Volume 7 of The Johannesburg Review of Books!

In this issue, Wamuwi Mbao reviews The English Understand Wool by Helen DeWitt, ‘a superb macaron of darkly satirical fiction’; George Hull engages with Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò’s new book Against Decolonisation: Taking African Agency Seriously; Kyle Allan dips into Kelwyn Sole’s latest collection of poetry Skin Rafts; and Siphokazi Magadla appraises Mxolisi Mchunu’s Violence and Solace: The Natal Civil War in Late-Apartheid South Africa.

In the second in a series of long-form interviews to be hosted on this platform, which will focus on contemporary poetry collections by Black women and non-binary poets, The JRB Patron Makhosazana Xaba chats to Katleho Kano Shoro about playfulness, rage and her book Serurubele. Fungai Machirori sits down with Lucy Mushita for an interview on her debut novel Chinongwa, and Academic Editor Simon van Schalkwyk chats to PR Anderson about travelling to places you’ve never been, the viciousness of history, and his new collection of poetry, Night Transit, which you can read an excerpt from elsewhere in the issue.

In our survey of new and forthcoming fiction, we present for your enjoyment ‘Blue Boy Lagoon’ by Keith Oliver Lewis, the winning short story from this year’s Short.Sharp.Stories Awards, as well as excerpt from The Frightened, the sparkling debut novel from Lethokuhle Msimang. We are also pleased to share extracts from Human Sacrifices, the new short story collection by acclaimed Latin American writer María Fernanda Ampuero, as well as Gothataone Moeng’s debut short story collection, Call and Response. Xhosa readers will be interested to see an excerpt from K Sello Duiker’s Inkwenkwezi efihlakeleyo, a new isiXhosa edition of The Hidden Star, translated by Xolisa Guzula, and we feature a preview of The Resurrection, the Joburg-set debut thriller from Sihle Qwabe.

In non-fiction, we present an excerpt from Lost Libraries, Burnt Archives, an edited volume of short stories, artworks, poems and essays that engage with the tragic destruction of the African Studies Library at the University of Cape Town in April 2021, as well as samplers from Hugo ka Canham’s forthcoming book Riotous Deathscapes, and Joel Cabrita’s new book Written Out: The Silencing of Regina Gelana Twala.

In our poetry section, we present The JRB presents an excerpt from Mxolisi Nyezwa’s new collection of poetry, Bhlawa’s Inconsolable Spirits, while from our Photo Editor Victor Dlamini this month, a portrait of Don Mattera.

And while you’re reading, enjoy A recent, and very suspicious, lack of loadshedding, a playlist compiled by Tymon Smith.

Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 7, Issue 2, which you will also find on our issue archive page:




Fiction excerpts

New non-fiction



The JRB Daily

Cover image: Escalating the Northcliff Piazza/Jennifer Malec

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