Johannesburg and New York are similar, concrete jungles. Big cities of dreams where hustling is the name of the game.
Joburg is a city where people get to envision, fulfil, and live their dreams. But on the flip side, the city has also been a place where dreams are diminished, with folks finding themselves swallowed by big lights and shady street corners.
In this collection of eclectic short stories titled Joburg Noir, celebrated author and editor Niq Mhlongo has called different authors to share their stories about the City of Gold.
In Joburg Noir, about 20 contributors, mostly celebrated authors in their own right, reflect on stories that make Joburg what it is. Some of these stories are fictional, which, however, mirrors the reality of what happens in this city, while some share personal experiences.
The beauty of Joburg is in its multifaced outlook which has the ability to give the good and the bad.
I like how the stories in this book cover all that. Crime, xenophobia, prostitution, fake pastors, unemployment, drugs, homelessness, dilapidating buildings, love, and corruption are just some of the themes that make up the tales.
These are tales that have come to define the realities of contemporary Johannesburg and South Africa.
Navigating through the pages of this book, particularly if you’ve lived in the city, you are bound to relate to some of the stories or even see yourself in them. I found myself relating to Khanyi Magubane’s story of how she nearly lost her money in the City centre.
Luckily, she didn’t, I, on the other hand, went back home with empty pockets.
And I will forever appreciate the lessons Joburg taught on that fateful day.
Joburg Noir is a much-needed reminder of what Joburg is, a university of life.
It teaches you lessons that no institutions of higher learning or parent can pass on. Its modules include street smartness, carefulness, and staying true to your dreams and values.
I was also mesmerised by the level of storytelling in this book from local authors. The country is truly gifted with amazing writers and in this book, they all shine through.
I was particularly impressed with the writing of Siphiwo Mahala, Styles Ledwaba, and Lidudumalingani. I am now looking forward to reading their works, especially that upcoming book by Lidudumalingani, because I was just struck by their gifts as writers.
Joburg Noir is a must-read book which celebrates Johannesburg in its colourful outlook.