Jonathan Ball to publish Sisonke Msimang memoir


Jonathan Ball Publishers announced on Tuesday that they would be publishing Sisonke Msimang’s first book and memoir, Always Another Country, October 2017.

The publishers won a bidding fierce bidding war for the southern African rights to the memoir from agent Isobel Dixon at Blake Friedmann, in London.

Ester Levinrad, publisher at Jonathan Ball, was confident of Msimang’s story resonating with a broad audience.

“Once in a while you are fortunate enough to work with a writer who crystallises what makes publishing in South Africa so exciting, telling a personal story that could only have a local genesis, yet with a potential which defies borders. That is Always Another Country, to me – Sisonke’s writing helps me to make sense not only of the country but the world in which we live,” she said.

Msimang’s memoir covers her childhood in exile in Zambia and Kenya, her young adulthood and student years in North America and her return to South Africa during the euphoria of the 1990s.

The writer and activist also offers candid reflections on her discontent and disappointment with the current situation in South Africa, as well as on her experiences of family, romance and motherhood, bringing a novelist’s talent for character and pathos.

Her story at its heart is a bitter-sweet chronicle of her coming-of-age.

Isobel Dixon describes it as a very personal story, saying “while well-known [South African] political figures appear in these pages, it is an intimate story, a testament to family bonds and sisterhood.”

Msimang began writing Always Another Country in 2013 in the wake of the Marikana massacre. She currently lives in Perth, Australia, where she works as Programme Director for the Centre for Stories, while regularly traveling to Johannesburg to comment and speak on current affairs.

She holds degrees from Macalester College, Minnesota and the University of Cape Town, is a Yale World Fellow, an Aspen New Voices Fellow, and was a Ruth First Fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand.

In addition, she is a regular contributor to The Guardian, The Daily Maverick and The New York Times, as well as having given a popular TED Talk, which touches on events dealt with in her upcoming memoir.

Watch the TED Talk here.