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A Queer and crooked memoir,

for the not so straight or narrow.

Melinda Ferguson Books. An imprint of NB Publishers

“Robert Hamblin astonishes with a prose memoir of unflinchingly vulnerable, deeply touching, profoundly humbling and richly informative revelation. Exquisitely written, with an unsettling fleshy intensity and urgency, Hamblin reaches deep into the reader’s heart and mind with exquisite poignancy and unsettling candour.”


– Judge Edwin Cameron

“ROBERT is packed with irresistible fierceness that pierces through the difficult conversations so necessary in white South Africa today ... A necessary read for those daring to be free.”

– Dr. Zethu Matebeni

Research Chair in Sexualities, Gender and Queer Studies, Fort Hare


ROBERT - A Queer & Crooked Memoir for the not so straight or narrow traverses a childhood peppered with a cast of unique and marginalised characters. At the centre is Billy, his flamboyantly queer conman father and the mysterious, seductive Alexis.


Robert’s childhood self is twisted in a confusing gender identity crisis. Being a girl does just not sit well for him. Alexis seduces his teenage self in an attempt to teach him how to be a woman. As he grows more obsessed, he loses her to the underbelly of Joburg’s strip clubs.

Although Robert transitions from female to male, this is not a predictable trans-story of someone trapped in the wrong body. Rather,

a tale of a human who refuses to live in a box and who questions the straight trajectory.


Through excavating his past, Robert confronts and begins healing from racism and the confines of gender.

“Fasten your seatbelts, put your tray tables in the upright locked position

and leave your binary thinking on the tarmac. Writing from the inside out,

this book is the literary equivalent of Robert’s startling and provocative

verve as an artist.”

– Marianne Thamm, Daily Maverick

“In my book club we call works like this ‘unputtable downs’. This memoir is captivating, real, entertaining, informative and educational. It’s an easy read, it’s a serious read and it’s a read for everyone. Hamblin skilfully weaves together important topics of race, class, culture and sexuality politics. It will make you smile, giggle, wonder, laugh and cry. Congratulations Robert Hamblin you have made a notable contribution to our society by laying the story of your life bare for us to learn.”


– Dr Mzi Nduna, AssPro, Department of Psychology, Wits

Melinda Ferguson Books. An imprint of NB Publishers


"Hamblin makes the body personal, direct, vivid, inescapable, infuriating, delightful, terrifying, flexible and funny. And if you don’t understand how complex, how utterly ridiculous, the idea of the male/female binary is when you’ve finished reading the book, then you probably never will. 


What I wanted to know was: is the author as quick and warm and funny and busy and insightful and vulnerable and fuck-you in real life as he is on the page? " 


- By Karin Schimke, Daily Maverick

Sara-Jayne King Makwala speaks to artist, trans activist, and feminist Robert Hamblin about his memoir Robert, A queer and crooked memoir for the not so straight or narrow

"...glorious beautifully written! Robert can write."


- Sara-Jayne King Makwala

"Hamblin se skerp oog kom egter van sy kunstenaarskap as fotograaf en skilder. In Robert bewys en vestig hy homself as woordkunstenaar. Die toonaard van die werk is dié van ’n kunsstuk met amper liriese beskrywings wat my by tye aan Hooglied laat dink het. Daarom voel dit of die grense versit word tussen boek, outobiografie, testament, manifes … In die pleeg van sy kuns bly Hamblin dus ontwrig soos wat genre en kunsvorme vervloei. Hy gee ons ’n tintelende blik op waar queerheid sigself tans bevind, beleë insig in hoe dit die afgelope dekades veral in ’n wit Suid-Afrikaanse konteks gevorm is, en weerkaats die reënboog van hoe die nabye toekoms kan lyk. Maar tog vertel Robert eenvoudig hoe dit is en was in die lyf van een mens, en oorrompel jou met ’n storie wat anderkant Pride-maand bly verlos."

- Laurie Gaum, Litnet resensie

"As hy sterf is die begrafnis ʼn droewe mengsel van menige operas se dramatiese doodstonele begelei met volle orkeste, asook die tonele in Absolutely Fabulous waar Edina in haar se pa se graf tuimel."

"Dit is ook ʼn liminale ruimte waarin sy genderidentiteit heeltyd kwikagtig beweeg en rondgly. Dink aan Salvador Dali se skildery, The Persistence of Memory, van die smeltende horlosies, of ʼn seekat wat onderwater vinnig of stadig van vorm verander. "

"...want in hierdie outobiografie gebeur daar baie tussen die lakens én tussen die reëls. Er staat niet wat er staat. Dit is ʼn lywige boek van 355 bladsye, dus is daar plek vir net enkele tonele. Laasgenoemde woord word bewustelik gebruik, omdat daar sterk filmiese kwaliteite aan vele scènes gekoppel is. Draaiboekskrywers kan gerus notisie neem."

- Herman Lategan Rapport

“A gift to South African trans and queer literature, bringing home the
complexity of the struggle of a white trans man on the road to reclamation
of self during times where the country itself was in a fight to redefine and
reclaim its identity. The book, though grounded and serious, is also cheeky
and provocative.”

– Liberty Matthyse, Director Gender Dynamix, Trans Rights Organisation

"For tonight's Man Torque, as usual we go where no man has gone before, tonight highlighting the month of pride by pushing the boundaries of our Man Torque show, joined by Robert Hamblin, author on his telling new book 'Robert', based on this life as a transman, also joined in conversation by none other than the esteemed Justice Edwin Cameron, former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa

- The Aubrey Masango Show Cape Talk and Radio 702

The Book Lounge - Cape Town - Podcasts

In this episode about memoirs, we bring you a conversation with Robert Hamblin about his just-published book, Robert: A Queer and Crooked Memoir for the Not So Straight or Narrow, and staff recommend their favourite memoirs.

Robert Hamblin has taken a hand grenade and “gooid” it into a world you thought knew, exploding stereotypes…
Robert by Robert Is a beautifully crafted powerful autobiography that reads like a novel. Robert the memoir not Robert the artist is a book about lies and secrets and fear and hate and pain and violence and difficult complicated messy relationships. Its also a story of courage and love and romance and truth and hope and healing. 


- Jonathan Ancer Author Journalist and fearsome cruciverbalist for Exclusive Books Homebru

Graffiti Boekwinkel Aanlyn Kuier met Robert Hamblin en Gavin Prins.

“Robert’s work is a cartography of transitions, an authentic, vulnerable
account of what it truly means to heal, and what it means to always work
on finding love and joy.”

– Jabulani Pereira, Director of Iranti, LGBTIQ Media and Advocacy Organisation

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