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…

Essays

‘Baldwin the symbol of black transgression and global black anger is simply peerless’—Bongani Madondo on If Beale Street Could Talk, the book and Oscar-winning film

James Baldwin’s novel of half a century ago, If Beale Street Could Talk, now reissued by Penguin Random House, was…

Biography & Memoir

Illuminating a mighty poet and a total artist—Rustum Kozain reviews Dread Poetry and Freedom: Linton Kwesi Johnson and the Unfinished Revolution

The JRB Poetry Editor Rustum Kozain reviews David Austin’s new book Dread Poetry and Freedom: Linton Kwesi Johnson and the Unfinished Revolution, finding…

Fiction

‘There is no comfort to be had in fiction. Our history is too raw for that’—Jacob Dlamini reviews Barry Gilder’s ‘brilliant, haunting’ novel The List

The List, the debut novel by former anti-apartheid activist and uMkhonto weSizwe member Barry Gilder, is a meditation about betrayal, faith,…

Crime Fiction

‘A story that skips along breezily, even as the body count rises’—Jennifer Malec reviews My Sister, the Serial Killer, the debut novel by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Contrary to what the title and pulpy cover seem to suggest, My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite is…

Africa

[Temporary Sojourner] Efemia Chela reads Trifonia Melibea Obono’s La Bastarda, the first novel by an Equatoguinean woman to be translated into English

In La Bastarda we find a revolutionary piece of literature, where a young girl isn’t saved by her long-lost father,…

Biography & Memoir

Nelson Mandela’s ‘new’ collection of prison dispatches signs his name across our hearts: Bongani Madondo reviews The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela

Torn for so long between anxiety and awe at the idolisation of Nelson Mandela, The JRB Contributing Editor Bongani Madondo…

Africa

‘English’s tendency to obliterate other languages does not apply here’—Bwesigye bwa Mwesigire reviews Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s Kintu

Bwesigye bwa Mwesigire reviews Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s Kintu, which was recently awarded a prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction. Kintu Jennifer…

Fiction

A novel that takes up Baldwin’s declaration that the story of America ‘is not a pretty one’: Wamuwi Mbao reviews Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing

Wamuwi Mbao reviews Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing, winner of the 2017 National Book Award for fiction. Sing, Unburied, Sing Jesmyn…

Africa

[Temporary Sojourner] Efemia Chela reads The Ultimate Tragedy, the first novel from Guinea-Bissau ever to be translated into English

Efemia Chela travels to Guinea-Bissau with Abdulai Silá’s The Ultimate Tragedy in The JRB’s Temporary Sojourner series. The Ultimate Tragedy (A Última Tragédia)…