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…

Fiction

To move about in an unkind world under the mark of racial blackness—Wamuwi Mbao reviews Scatterlings, the debut novel by Rešoketšwe Manenzhe

Wamuwi Mbao reviews Rešoketšwe Manenzhe’s novel Scatterlings, winner of the 2020 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award. ScatterlingsRešoketšwe ManenzheJacana Media, 2020 There…

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…

Africa

Embodying the resurgence in Black surrealism—Wamuwi Mbao reviews Nudibranch by 2020 Caine Prize winner Irenosen Okojie

Wamuwi Mbao reviews Irenosen Okojie’s Nudibranch, the ‘immersively deranged’ collection containing her 2020 Caine Prize-winning story.  Nudibranch Irenosen OkojieLittle, Brown,…

Africa

[Temporary Sojourner] The Beast in the Village—Efemia Chela reviews Confessions of a Lioness by Mia Couto, finding uncanny echoes of the coronavirus lockdown

The JRB Francophone and Contributing Editor Efemia Chela travels to Mozambique with Mia Couto’s novel Confessions of a Lioness. Confessions…

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

Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor’s weight of whispers—Carey Baraka considers Dust, The Dragonfly Sea and a novelist’s mission to retell the ‘vile things’ of history

The Kenyan novel is not dead, writes Carey Baraka, as long as Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor keeps writing. 1. On June…

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

Contemplating South Africa’s coalition of traumas through the idea of lost language—Khanya Mtshali reviews Phumlani Pikoli’s Born Freeloaders

In Born Freeloaders, Phumlani Pikoli seeks to provide a meditation on how empire is constructed through language. But the language…

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…

Biography & Memoir

Jia Tolentino is a moral voice for the secular world—Khanya Mtshali reviews Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, a collection of essays that explores how we survive our late-capitalist hellscape

In Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, Jia Tolentino presents her cosmopolitan obsessions with piercing insight and authority, writes Khanya Mtshali. Trick…

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…