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Failing Maths and My Other Crimes

by Thabo Jijana

Failing Maths and My Other Crimes was the winner of the 2016 Ingrid Jonker Prize. Jijana was championed by one judge in particular, who described his debut, with its ‘subtle, wry and memorable title’, as ‘a rich and satisfying collection where, unusually, every poem strikes something hard and vital.’ The judge went on to remark that ‘Jijana has a painterly way with the image, capturing in impossibly few words a picture that does most of the poem’s outer work, so that the poet himself can get on with what it is he is trying to say’.

The judge observed that ‘while the self is – in any enquiring poet’s obsessions – an important project, what emerges here is not the self as the bull’s eye, but the self as link – between histories, times, generations and people’.

In a whirlwind of local history, contemporary culture, domestic angst, and nostalgia, Thabo Jijana’s debut collection of award-winning poems exhibits an emotional wisdom beyond the writer’s years. Earthen and edgy, musical and minimal, Failing Maths and My Other Crimes is not solely a meditation on family and mortality, nor just a manifesto on the role of art in a young man’s life: beyond all, this collection is a short masterclass in South African storytelling-in-verse.

ISBN 9780620676939 | 68 pages | 203 x 133mm | 2015 | uHlanga Press, South Africa | Paperback

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“Jijana . . . gets under your skin.”

City Press, South Africa

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