Makumbi’s multi-award-winning novel Kintu has been hailed as the great Ugandan novel, a modern classic. It has received effusive reviews in Uganda as well as the US and Britain. Blending Ugandan oral tradition, folk tales, myth and Biblical elements, Makumbi brings a very colourful cast of characters to life. Her new novel, The First Woman, is of the same calibre.
An instant classic
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi writes novels and short stories. She studied and taught English literature in Uganda before continuing her studies in Manchester in 2001, where she now teaches creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. With the instant classic Kintu, she won the Kwani Manuscript Project in 2013 and the Windham-Campbell Prize in 2018.
The first woman
In Makumbi’s second epic novel, The First Woman, we follow the headstrong Kirabo growing up in rural Uganda. Although surrounded by strong women – her grandmother, many aunts and best friend – she begins to feel the absence of the mother she has never known. Who is the woman who gave birth to her? The search for answers brings her to Nsuuta, a woman who lives outside of the community and can tell her more. Among other things, she learns about ‘the first woman’, who was once independent and free but has been forced to adapt for centuries.
Traditions and feminism
The First Woman is based on the Ugandan creation story of the first woman. It is a sweeping yet deeply personal novel about longing and rebellion, steeped in old traditions and feminism. This makes Makumbi an ideal interlocutor in our ‘Women and Power’ series.
Passa Porta, Uitgeverij Cossee, Pelckmans uitgevers