Guest Column

Book News: We have a new literary portal

2017-05-07 06:25
MADAME EDITOR Jennifer Malec is at the helm of the exciting new Johannesburg Review of Books. Picture: Supplied

MADAME EDITOR Jennifer Malec is at the helm of the exciting new Johannesburg Review of Books. Picture: Supplied

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An exciting new literary review portal, the Johannesburg Review of Books (JRB), was launched on Monday and it is all set to pump out in-depth analysis, news and reviews of all things literary and African.

The editor, Jennifer Malec, told City Press that part of the aim is to be able to provide an alternative space for “critical perspectives from Johannesburg, southern Africa and, indeed, Africa on global literature, culture and the arts”.

There are authoritative literary review journals in cities all over the world.

“When a significant novel or work of nonfiction is published, we know what these centres of thought think about that work. But there is no Lagos Review of Books, no Cairo Review of Books, and so on,” she said.

The first of what will be a monthly volume holds big names in its space, including Achmat Dangor, Ivan Vladislavic and Makhosazana Xaba.

Contributing editors include Bongani Madondo, Henrietta Rose-Innes, Efemia Chela, Victor Dlamini, Rustum Kozain, Niq Mhlongo and Simon van Schalkwyk.

“We didn’t have a theme in mind for the first issue but, while we were compiling it, a number of themes revealed themselves: counterfactual fiction, the clash of modernities and global power relations as reflected in literature, to name a few.

"It was a wonderful moment of serendipity,” Malec said.

In the launch edition, readers can look forward to consuming Madondo’s piece on Koleka Putuma’s debut book of poetry, a review which has received praise all week.

“It’s much longer than your average book review, but the response to it has been fantastic. If the writing is good, your audience will surprise you,” Malec said.

She added that the world needs to hear a diversity of voices now more than ever.

“I’d like to look back on our launch issue and remember when there was just a single review of books-type publication based in a major African city. I hope the JRB is the first of many,” she said.

. The JRB is in search of great writers, in all genres.

To get in touch, write to

. Visit to read the JRB and follow them on Twitter at @JoburgReview

Read more on:    literature

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