The Johannesburg Review of Books Vol. 8, Issue 2 (June 2024)

Makhosazana Xaba • Busisiwe Mahlangu • Shayera Dark • Percy Zvomuya • Wamuwi Mbao • Jennifer Malec • Niq Mhlongo • Lebohang Mojapelo • Pontsho Pilane • Sreddy Yen • Kweku Abimbola • Daniel Moss • Masande Ntshanga • CJ Driver • Uhuru Portia Phalafala • Achille Mbembe • Louis Timagène Houat • Barbara Boswell • Nthikeng Mohlele • Tlotlo Tsamaase • Victor Dlamini

Welcome to the second issue of Volume 8 of The Johannesburg Review of Books!

In this issue, Shayera Dark reviews Musih Tedji Xaviere’s debut novel These Letters End in Tears, ‘a welcome addition to the growing list of literature centring queer lives in Africa’, while Wamuwi Mbao engages with Hedley Twidle’s new collection of essays, Show Me the Place, and Percy Zvomuya appraises Mary E Ndlovu’s memoir, An Outsider Within: A Memoir of Love, of Loss, of Perseverance.

In the fifth in our series of long-form interviews focusing on contemporary poetry collections by Black women and non-binary poets, The JRB Patron Makhosazana Xaba chats to Busisiwe Mahlangu about creativity, structure, and owning and embracing power. Elsewhere in the issue, Niq Mhlongo chats to JRB Editor Jennifer Malec about his new novel, The City is Mine, and the changes he’s seen in the publishing industry since his first novel was published twenty years ago; Gambia-born poet Kweku Abimbola is in conversation with Sreddy Yen about identity, poetry, diaspora and Afropessimism; and finally, Lebohang Mojapelo talks to Pontsho Pilane about her book Power and Faith: How Evangelical Churches are Quietly Shaping Our Democracy.

In our survey of new and forthcoming fiction, we present for your enjoyment an excerpt from the rediscovered classic The Maroons, the only known novel by Black abolitionist and political exile Louis Timagène Houat. You can also dip into Barbara Boswell’s new novel, The Comrade’s Wife; Nthikeng Mohlele’s Revolutionaries’ House; as well as Tlotlo Tsamaase’s debut Womb City, a cyberpunk horror set in a future Botswana.

In non-fiction, we present extracts from Masande Ntshanga’s new essay ‘Technologies of Conquest’, newly published in The Creative Arts: On Practice, Making and Meaning, edited by Sally Ann Murray and Michèle Betty; Dayspring, the memoir of the late CJ Driver, major South African poet and exiled student politician; Keorapetse Kgositsile and the Black Arts Movement by Uhuru Portia Phalafala; Achille Mbembe’s award-winning new book Brutalism; and Izimpabanga Zomhlaba, Makhosazana Xaba’s new isiZulu translation of The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon.

In our poetry section, we’re delighted to present five poems by Daniel Moss.

From our Photo Editor Victor Dlamini this month, a literary portrait of Shubnum Khan.

Here’s the complete breakdown of Vol. 8, Issue 2, which you will also find on our issue archive page:




Fiction excerpts




The JRB Daily

Cover image: Power Made (In)Visible/Ben Williams

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