The Johannesburg Review of Books Vol. 7, Issue 3 (August 2023)

Makhosazana Xaba • Sarah Lubala • Wamuwi Mbao • Michael Titlestad • Anna Stroud • Jarred Thompson • Mphuthumi Ntabeni • Musaemura B Zimunya • Shayera Dark • Harry Garuba • Khadija Heeger • Sindiwe Magona • Nthikeng Mohlele • Ukamaka Olisakwe • Wisani Mushwana • Sanya Osha • Julian Brown • Cecile Pin • Sarah Isaacs • Sipho Sithole • Sharon Dodua Otoo • Victor Dlamini • Tymon Smith

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

In this issue, Wamuwi Mbao reviews Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang, ‘an excellent example of the reviewer’s least favourite thing’; Michael Titlestad engages with Eben Venter’s ‘singular and significant’ new novel Decima; Mphuthumi Ntabeni dips into Eye Brother Horn by Bridget Pitt, ‘an intsomi, a fable of biblical and mythological proportions’; and Shayera Dark appraises Bisi Adjapon’s ‘pacy, character-driven novel’ Daughter in Exile.

In the third 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 Sarah Lubala about migration, family, identity and her book A History of Disappearance. Anna Stroud sits down with Jarred Thompson for an interview on his debut novel The Institute for Creative Dying, which imagines a radical alternative to life and death.

This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Chimukwembe demonstration, aka the ‘Pots and Pans Protest’, a student uprising in Harare, Zimbabwe (then Salisbury, Rhodesia) that had lasting consequences for Zimbabwean literature. In an essay for this issue, author and poet Musaemura Zimunya, a key protagonist of the protest, remembers.

In our survey of new and forthcoming fiction, we present for your enjoyment ‘A World Minus Women’, excerpted from Nthikeng Mohlele’s new novel, Breasts, etc, as well as an exclusive excerpt from Glass Tower by Sarah Isaacs, winner of the inaugural Island Prize. We are also pleased to share extracts from A Soft Landing, the buzzy debut novel by Wisani Mushwana, and Ada’s Realm, the long-awaited novel by Sharon Dodua Otoo, winner of the prestigious Ingeborg Bachmann Prize. We also feature an excerpt from Cecile Pin’s debut novel Wandering Souls, which was longlisted for the 2023 Women’s Prize for Fiction, and a preview from Don’t Answer When They Call Your Name, the new novel from Ukamaka Olisakwe.

To commemorate the eleventh anniversary of the Marikana massacre, which took place on on 16 August 2012, we have published the story of one of the murdered miners, Tembelakhe Mati, excerpted from Julian Brown’s book Marikana: A People’s History.

In non-fiction, read ‘I Was Forced to Come Out’, an excerpt from the forthcoming book Love Offers No Safety: Nigeria’s Queer Men Speak; ‘Clawing At Stones’, from the new book I Write the Yawning Void: Selected Essays of Sindiwe Magona; an excerpt from Maye! Maye!: The History and Heritage of the Kwa Mai Mai Market; and Sanya Osha’s Foreword to the new reissue of the late Harry Garuba’s poetry collection, Shadow and Dream, from which we also feature an excerpt elsewhere in the issue.

In our poetry section, read the work of Khadija Heeger, from her collection Thicker Than Sorrow, while from our Photo Editor Victor Dlamini this month, a literary portrait of Dudu Busani-Dube.

And while you’re reading, enjoy Through the fog of pseudoephedrine, codeine and paracetamol, a playlist compiled by Tymon Smith.

Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 7, Issue 3, which you will also find on our issue archive page:





Fiction excerpts




The JRB Daily

Cover image: Joburg, the Wild West/Jennifer Malec

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