Fourthwall Books



Fourthwall Books was established in Johannesburg in 2010 by designer Oliver Barstow and writer and editor Bronwyn Law-Viljoen. Back then we had one simple goal in mind: to publish visual books that we ourselves would like to own; books that were out of the ordinary—provocative, experimental, well designed, interesting to read, pleasing to hold and look at. We’re still pursuing that goal, though perhaps with a little more clarity than before and also having learned a few important things about books along the way. In 2015 Oliver moved on to new things in Amsterdam, Carla Saunders came on board as our designer and artist and writer Terry Kurgan joined Fourthwall Books as a co-director and editor.

In 2018, Fourthwall Books became an associate imprint of Jacana Media. The company retains its editorial and aesthetic independence, but is distributed and marketed by Jacana.

We have now published 38 books and won several prestigious awards: the 2010 Jane Jacobs Best Urban Book Award (New York) for Writing the City into Being; the 2011 Antalis Book Design Award for Fire Walker; the 2015 Jan Rabie Rapport Prize for Non-Fiction for Nagmusiek; the 2015 Kyknet Rapport Prize for Fiction for Nagmusiek; and most prestigiously of all, the 2016 Eugene Marais prize for Nagmusiek. Hanging on a Wire was the joint winner of the 2018 NIHSS award for non-fiction.

Read more about Fourthwall’s mission to raise the bar in South African publishing in this interview. In the literary journal Aerodrome, see why Percy Zvomuya of the Mail & Guardian calls editor Bronwyn Law-Viljoen “A bibliophile for all seasons.” Look at some of our beautiful and innovative book designs on creative online showcase Between 10 and 5, and read what Oliver Barstow had to say about the creative and conceptual thinkingbehind them.

Where you can buy our books:

Our books are available to purchase through Jacana Media. For orders please email:

They are also available from independent bookstores Clarke’s Bookshop in Cape Town, and Love BooksDavid Krut Bookstores (at both Maboneng and Rosebank outlets) and Bridge books in Johannesburg.

We are now distributed outside South Africa by Idea Books.

If your local or international bookstore does not yet stock us, get on their case!

Fourthwall Books people

Director, Editor: Bronwyn Law-Viljoen

Director, Editor: Terry Kurgan

Designer: Carla Saunders

Results 1 - 9 of 9
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The Johannesburg Gas Works

The Johannesburg Gas Works (now Egoli Gas) is a familiar and spectacular industrial landmark in the city. Its dramatic holding towers and red-brick...

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While living in Johannesburg, British photographer Jason Larkin was struck by the ever-present reality of people waiting. He was drawn to those who...

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Hotel Yeoville

Hotel Yeoville was a participatory public art project, conceptualised and directed by artist Terry Kurgan, and based online and in the public library...

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UP UP: Stories of Johannesburg’s Highrises

UP UP: Stories of Johannesburg’s Highrises presents a selection of buildings in the inner city of Johannesburg.

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Sometimes I make money one day of the week

Lisa King made photographs in the ZSE from 2011 till its migration to digital technology in 2014. Her project is a reflection on the physical and...

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Hanging on a Wire

Foreword by Zoë Wicomb, with essays by Rick Rohde, Virginia MacKenny, Timm Hoffman, Ben Cousins and Siona O’Connell

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August House is Dead, Long Live August House!

In the east end of the inner city of Johannesburg, a former textiles factory undergoes a dramatic transformation to become, over the next several...

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Johannesburg. Made in China

In the ninth book of the acclaimed series Wake Up, This is Joburg, photographer Mark Lewis and writer Tanya Zack follow professional shoppers who...

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Writing the City into Being

Writing the City into Being spans more than a decade of work on Johannesburg. It is both an unflinching analysis of the characteristics of an...

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