Jonny Steinberg biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Jonny Steinberg
Photo: Antoine De Ras

Jonny Steinberg

Jonny Steinberg Biography

Jonny Steinberg was born and bred in South Africa. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Three Letter Plague, published by Vintage (also published under the title Sizwe's Test), as well as Midlands and The Number, both of which won South Africa's premier nonfiction literary award, the Sunday Times Alan Paton Prize. Steinberg was also a recipient of one of the inaugural Windham Campbell Prizes. He teaches African Studies and Criminology at Oxford University.



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Interview

Jonny Steinberg shares his experiences meeting and writing about Asad Addullani for his book A Man of Good Hope

When and where did you first meet Asad? What was it about him that intrigued you?

I did not intend to write a book about Asad Abdullahi when I first met him. I had employed him to introduce me to the world of Cape Town Somalis. Early in our association, he and I were strolling through Cape Town's botanical gardens when Asad idly picked up a twig from the ground, snapped it open and drew it to his nose. The smell transported him back more than 20 years. He was six years old, in a madrasa in Somalia, mixing the ink he would use to copy out passages from the Koran. The ink was clearly narcotic; he was reliving an old, forgotten high. I thought to myself, a man who can take me to his childhood so vividly, so intimately, is a man about whom I ought to write a book.

The Somali diaspora is one that many Americans are unfamiliar with. Why is Asad's story a good introduction to the topic?

In January 1990, more than half of the population of Mogadishu, Somali's capital city, fled. The majority never returned. It is a story of such incalculable scale. To get an inkling of what it means, one needs to go up close and look intimately at an individual life, to try, as best one can, to get under an individual's skin. ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Jonny Steinberg at BookBrowse
A Man of Good Hope jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Jonny Steinberg but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Naomi Benaron

    Naomi Benaron

    Naomi Benaron is a fiction writer, a poet, and a social activist - all entwined. She has worked extensively with the African refugee population in her community, teaches online through the Afghan Women's Writing Project, has ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    A Man of Good Hope

    Try:
    Running the Rift
    by Naomi Benaron

  • Kenneth Bonert

    Kenneth Bonert

    Kenneth Bonert's work has appeared in McSweeney's 25, Grain, and The Fiddlehead. A former journalist, his work has appeared in the Globe and Mail and other publications. His story "Packers and Movers" was shortlisted for the ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    A Man of Good Hope

    Try:
    The Lion Seeker
    by Kenneth Bonert

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