‘Nobody owns Joburg, which is the way it should be’ – NR Brodie chats about her debut novel Knucklebone
More about the book!
William Saunderson-Meyer interviewed NR Brodie for the Sunday Times about her debut novel Knucklebone.
Brodie is a veteran journalist and bestselling author of five books, including The Joburg Book, an engaging and authoritative history that follows the story of the city through its spaces and communities. Knucklebone is her first work of fiction.
She chats to Saunderson-Meyer about writing about the supernatural, her fictional inspirations and her relationship with Joburg Book.
You wrote a contemporary history of Johannesburg and one of the pleasures of Knucklebone is that you know the city so well. Tell me about you and Joburg.
When the first edition of The Joburg Book came out in 2008, it was harder for people to declare their love for the city. The book was part love song, part dirge, part call to action. The city felt rough, but redeemable. And it has done more than that in the last decade. Nobody owns Joburg, which is the way it should be. But Joburg is a character. I have a very specific relationship with its parts. What does fear feel like in a suburb? What does belonging feel like in another place?
When you write histories of cities, you train yourself to observe people and spaces in specific ways. I try to imagine or understand how the parts fit into the whole. Joburg is unique, in the ways that it threatens you and the ways it rewards you.