Jonny Steinberg’s Latest: Three-Letter Plague
“When people die en masse within walking distance of treatment, my inclination is to believe that there must be a mistake somewhere, a miscalibration between institutions and people. This book is a quest to discover whether I am right.”
– Jonny Steinberg
Jonny Steinberg’s groundbreaking work of reportage about pride and shame, sex and death, and the Aids pandemic in Africa is a masterpiece of social observation.
At the end of a steep gravel road in one of the remotest corners of Lusikisiki in the old Transkei lies the village of Ithanga. Home to a few hundred villagers, the majority of them unemployed, it is inconceivably poor. In the broader world, most would consider it entirely inconsequential.
It is here that award-winning author Jonny Steinberg explores the lives of a community caught up in a battle to survive the ravages of HIV/Aids. He befriends Sizwe Magadla, a young local man who refuses to be tested for HIV despite the existence of a well-run testing and anti-retroviral programme. It is this apparent illogic that becomes the key to understanding the dynamics that thread their way through a complex and traditional rural community.
In this eye-opening, compassionate, searing and beautifully written book, Steinberg seeks to understand the Aids crisis in South Africa. As he grapples to get closer to answers that remain maddeningly just out of reach, he realizes he must look within to unravel some of the enigmas surrounding an epidemic that has corrupted souls as much as bodies.
“In this vivid account of a journey to the frontline in the battle against AIDS, Jonny Steinberg portrays with acute perception the impact of the epidemic on village life in a small rural community in South Africa.”
─ Martin Meredith, author of Diamonds, Gold and War
About the author
Jonny Steinberg was born in Johannesburg, and has an MA in Politics from the University of the Witwatersrand. He continued his studies on a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University‘s Balliol College, and completed a Doctorate in Philosophy (Politics) in 1999. He returned to South Africa and worked as a reporter and later senior writer at Business Day, focusing on the South African Police Service, crime and the Constitutional Court of South Africa.
He left Business Day in 2001 to research and write his first book, Midlands, but continued to write a fortnightly column for the newspaper. In 2004 Steinberg published a second book, The Number. Both Midlands and The Number (each published by Jonathan Ball Publishers) won the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award for non-fiction, and Midlands also received the National Booksellers’ Choice Award. A collection of the best of Steinberg’s journalism, Notes form a Fractured Country, was published in 2007.