Biography & Memoir

‘Startlingly good’—Wamuwi Mbao reviews Misfits: A Personal Manifesto by Michaela Coel, creator and star of the hit TV show I May Destroy You

Michaela Coel’s Misfits blends an effervescent sense of social realism with a beguiling clarity, writes Wamuwi Mbao. Misfits: A Personal…

Africa

Even for women brave enough to reclaim their lives, external forces stand ready to keep them confined—Shayera Dark reviews Ukamaka Olisakwe’s Ogadinma: Or, Everything Will Be All Right

Shayera Dark reviews Ogadinma: Or, Everything Will Be All Right by Ukamaka Olisakwe. Ogadinma: Or, Everything Will Be All RightUkamaka…

Fiction

A work of fiction that calls to us to rethink Palestine’s ‘normal’—Wamuwi Mbao reviews Against The Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa

Wamuwi Mbao reviews Susan Abulhawa’s Against The Loveless World, winner of the Palestine Book Award. Against The Loveless WorldSusan AbulhawaBloomsbury…

International

‘What does it do to you to be the subject of someone else’s imaginative impoverishment?’—Wamuwi Mbao reviews Claudia Rankine’s new book Just Us

Claudia Rankine’s Just Us is perhaps the most profound meditation on race and violence to emerge in the first two…

Academic

Hiding in Plain Sight: Cold War Interventions into African Literature—Bhakti Shringarpure reviews Monica Popescu’s At Penpoint: African Literatures, Postcolonial Studies, and the Cold War

Monica Popescu’s At Penpoint: African Literatures, Postcolonial Studies, and the Cold War is a steadfast engagement with the cultural Cold…

History

The archive has been rigged—Wamuwi Mbao reviews Patric Tariq Mellet’s The Lie of 1652, uncovering the debased half-truths installed as national narrative

In The Lie of 1652, Patric Tariq Mellet fills in the ‘before’ that was of little interest to those invested…

International

To overthrow Europatriarchy, logic and emotion must work in tandem—Shayera Dark reviews Sensuous Knowledge: A Black Feminist Approach for Everyone by Minna Salami

Europatriarchy takes centre stage in Minna Salami’s elegant book of essays Sensuous Knowledge: A Black Feminist Approach for Everyone, writes…

International

‘A tour de force of scholarship’—Arja Salafranca reviews The Pink Line: Journeys Across the World’s Queer Frontiers by Mark Gevisser

Arja Salafranca reviews Mark Gevisser’s new book The Pink Line: Journeys Across the World’s Queer Frontiers. The Pink Line: Journeys…

Academic

Philosophy in Africa, or Africa in Philosophy? Mary Carman reviews Debating African Philosophy: Perspectives on Identity, Decolonial Ethics and Comparative Philosophy

Mary Carman reviews Debating African Philosophy, a new collection of essays that originated during student protests and demands for the…

Poetry

Writing Athlone—Gabeba Baderoon’s latest poetry collection The History of Intimacy maps the small hurts of apartheid, writes Toni Giselle Stuart

Toni Giselle Stuart reviews Gabeba Baderoon’s poetry collection The History of Intimacy, which won the 2019 University of Johannesburg Main…

Africa

A powerful contribution towards the creation of a vitally needed counter-narrative of England—Wamuwi Mbao reviews Manchester Happened by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s new book Manchester Happened reflects the here-and-there double consciousness of living between Uganda and England, writes Wamuwi…

Fiction

A depth charge aimed at the submerged wreckage of slavery—Wamuwi Mbao reviews The Water Dancer, the debut novel by acclaimed writer Ta-Nehisi Coates

Between Baldwin, the world and the Old South—Wamuwi Mbao reviews The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The Water DancerTa-Nehisi CoatesHamish…

Fiction

Fragments, explorations and variations—Jennifer Malec reviews Zadie Smith’s debut collection of short stories, Grand Union, her most American book to date

Zadie Smith, the accomplished, experimental New Yorker—The JRB Editor Jennifer Malec reviews Grand Union. Grand UnionZadie SmithHamish Hamilton, 2019 Read an…

Poetry

A perfectly shaped raging fire of language and emotion—Lidudumalingani reviews Everything is a Deathly Flower, the debut poetry collection by Maneo Mohale

Lidudumalingani reviews Everything is a Deathly Flower by Maneo Mohale, finding it to be a succession of powerful moments. Everything…

Africa

American Spy reimagines the American spy, bringing gender and race into the war room—Jennifer Malec reviews Lauren Wilkinson’s new Cold War thriller

The JRB Editor Jennifer Malec reviews Lauren Wilkinson’s debut novel American Spy, a thriller that exposes the human drama that plays out…

Academic

The quest to establish a world-class African philosophical tradition—Sanya Osha reviews Paulin Hountondji: African Philosophy as Critical Humanism

On Paulin Hountondji’s Universalist philosophy—Sanya Osha reviews Paulin Hountondji: African Philosophy as Critical Humanism, by Franziska Dubgen and Stefan Skupien….

Africa

‘Not your traditional immigrant novel’—Efemia Chela reviews Beyond Babylon, the newly translated English debut by Somali–Italian author Igiaba Scego

In Beyond Babylon, by Igiaba Scego, migrants come to rebuild their lives in the midst of ruins, writes Francophone and…

Africa

‘A powerful commentary on displacement, and a stark condemnation of the powers that be’—Outlwile Tsipane reviews Helon Habila’s new novel, Travellers

In Travellers, Helon Habila delivers a riveting novel that unfolds as a tribute to displaced people and stands as a…

Africa

Bearing witness to unusual childhoods of privilege under oppression—Panashe Chigumadzi reviews Township Girls: The Cross-Over Generation

A significant first step in documenting the life writing of black Zimbabwean women—The JRB Contributing Editor Panashe Chigumadzi reviews Township Girls:…

Fiction

An exhilarating elegy for the slaves and storytellers of old—Lara Buxbaum reviews Patrick Chamoiseau’s wildly inventive novel The Old Slave and the Mastiff

Tracing the memory of bones, ‘a long thread of words that attempted to fulfil the universe’—Lara Buxbaum reviews The Old…

Non-fiction

‘Ace Magashule’s rise reveals the weakness of the centre’—Imraan Coovadia reviews Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s Gangster State

Imraan Coovadia reviews Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s new book, Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture. Pieter-Louis Myburgh Gangster State: Unravelling…