Wivenhoe Bookshop Magazine & Newsletter | Saturday 31 July 2021

Jhalak Prize Winner Jennifer Makumbi in Conversation

The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Mon 2nd August 7pm

A Wivenhoe Bookshop Zoom Event

Jhalak Prize Winner Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

& Dr Wendy McMahon in Conversation

BOOKING FORM ON THE RIGHT >>>>>>

 

A SUNDAY TIMES, OBSERVER, DAILY MAIL, BBC CULTURE & IRISH INDEPENDENT BOOK OF THE YEAR

‘JENNIFER MAKUMBI IS A GENIUS STORYTELLER.’ Reni Eddo-Lodge

A WATERSTONES BEST FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR

OPRAH MAGAZINE BEST OF 2020

A TIME MAGAZINE MUST-READ BOOK OF 2020

A GOOD HOUSEKEEPING BOOK OF THE MONTH

A BOOKSELLER BOOK OF THE MONTH

AN AL JAZEERA PICK: TOP BOOKS BY AFRICAN WRITERS, 2020 

Join us in conversation with Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and Dr Wendy McMahon. There will be conversation, readings and an opportunity for questions. This event is open to Bookshop Reading Group members and the public. Tickets for this Zoom event are £5.00 and spaces are limited so please book in advance. Book  your place using the form on the righthand side of the page, and a link will be circulated before the event. Signed copies of the book can ordered in advance (price £8.99)

At once epic and deeply personal, the second novel from prize-winning author Jennifer Makumbi is an intoxicating mix of Ugandan folklore and modern feminism that will linger in the memory long after the final page. 

As Kirabo enters her teens, questions begin to gnaw at her – questions which the adults in her life will do anything to ignore. Where is the mother she has never known? And why would she choose to leave her daughter behind? Inquisitive, headstrong, and unwilling to take no for an answer, Kirabo sets out to find the truth for herself.

Her search will take her away from the safety of her prosperous Ugandan family, plunging her into a very different world of magic, tradition, and the haunting legend of ‘The First Woman’.

About the Author

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a Ugandan novelist and short story writer. She has a PhD from Lancaster University.

Her first novel, Kintu (Oneworld, 2018), won the Kwani Manuscript Project in 2013 and was longlisted for the Etisalat Prize in 2014. She was awarded the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for ‘Let’s Tell This Story Properly’, which featured in her first collection, Manchester Happened (Oneworld, 2019).
She was awarded the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction 2018 and lives in Manchester, where she lectures in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. In 2020, she was selected as one of 100 Most Influential Africans of 2020 by New African magazine.

About Dr Wendy McMahon

Dr Wendy McMahon is a Senior Lecturer in American Studies with the School of American Studies at UEA.
Her research interests centre around the literatures of the American hemisphere and include African American literatures and human rights, literature and law, literature and social justice, representations of capitalism and globalisation, post-9/11 literature, literature, conflict and security, diaspora and exile writing, literary engagements with ideas of home, belonging, and citizenship, and  literature, space, place, and the natural environment.

Reviews

‘A novel bursting with resilience and warmth… Mixing the mythic and the modern, happily ignoring formal neatness to encompass Uganda’s miscellaneousness, it’s an enthralling achievement.’

The Sunday Times

The First Woman is captivating, wise, humorous and tender: Makumbi has come back stronger than ever. This is a tale about Kirabo and her family, and her place in the world as she searches for her mother and a true sense of belonging. But most of all, this is a book about the stories that define us, and those we tell to redefine ourselves. A riveting read.’

Maaza Mengiste, author of The Shadow King
‘Makumbi writes with the assurance and wry omniscience of an easygoing deity.’

New York Times
The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is the feminist coming-of-age story we’ve been waiting for. With the timeless quality of a story shared from lips to ears, this novel is a page-turner and a mind-blower.’

Tayari Jones, author or An American Marriage
‘A feminist coming-of-age epic… Her intimate prose is charming and compulsively readable. With equal parts wisdom and wry humour, [Makumbi] casts Kirabo as a character you care about… The First Woman is a refreshing bildungsroman that offers both a formidable heroine and an ornate snapshot of 20th-century Uganda.’

Literary Review
The First Woman is a lively, engaging read, and Makumbi cleverly braids the immensely personal – Kirabo’s yearning for a mother who appears to want nothing to do with her – with far larger scale social and political shifts… Its energy derives from its considerable wit and the charm of its central character.’

Guardian

‘Makumbi’s prose is irresistible and poignant, with remarkable wit, heart and charm — poetic and nuanced, brilliant and sly, openhearted and cunning, balancing discordant truths in wise ruminations. The First Woman rewards the reader with one of the most outstanding heroines and the incredible honor of journeying by her side.’

New York Times
‘All around, Nansubuga Makumbi opens up vistas of oppression: Idi Amin’s reign of terror and the patriarchal despotism against which women have to struggle. Bursting with resilient humour, the novel is as engaging as it is informative.’

The Times, Best Books of 2020

‘Ugandan literature can boast of an international superstar in Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi.’

Economist

‘Makumbi balances heartbreak with humour… The novel is also a discourse on power (whether political, social or sexual), but executed with a beautifully light touch.’

Daily Telegraph

‘A beautiful coming-of-age story, The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is set to the backdrop of a small Ugandan village. Surrounded by strong women, protagonist Kirabo starts to miss the mother she never knew and the book follows her journey growing up and finding her place in the world. It’s a tale steeped in folklore and feminism, rebellion and longing.’

Evening Standard

‘Superb. An intoxicating tale that combines mythic and modern elements to make the headiest of feminist brews.’
Irenosen Okojie, author of Nudibranch

‘Fantastic… Packed with passion and drama — and in possession of sharp political elbows — The First Woman finally becomes a moving and resonant celebration of sisterhood.’

Daily Mail

‘[An] arresting bildungsroman… Kirabo, a strong, empathetic protagonist, reveals a society where women are routinely pitted against one another or silenced. This beautifully rendered saga is a riveting deconstruction of social perceptions of women’s abilities and roles.’

Publishers Weekly

‘In her characteristically page-turning and engaging style, Nansubuga lays bare the complex power dynamics of patriarchy, capitalism and neocolonialism, not through academic jargon but via that most effective tool of education – storytelling.  An achingly beautiful tale.’

Sylvia Tamale, Professor of Law, Makerere University

‘It is clear that Makumbi is writing for Ugandans and, by extension, other Africans — and this is partly what makes the book a delight to read. However, the chief delight is the humour. It’s impossible to highlight just one passage as the humour shines from the first page to the last.’

East African

‘A poignant coming-of-age tale about women’s hard-won wisdom… Glorious.’

Washington Post

‘An intoxicating coming-of-age tale set amidst the brutality of Idi Amin’s Uganda, The First Woman is a hymn to survival, rebellion and the enduring power of the female spirit.’

Waterstones (October’s Best Books)

‘A captivating feminist coming-of-age tale set in Uganda.’

Independent (Book of the Month)

‘Kirabo, the protagonist of Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s The First Woman, is a wonderful, daring character who is growing up in the patriarchal society of 1970s Uganda. Intricately woven with themes of feminism, mythology and tradition, this exquisitely written and compelling story delivers a thoroughly satisfying ending.’

Abi Daré, author of The Girl With the Louding Voice

‘In lyrical prose, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi renders Kirabo’s coming-of-age tale as a tender depiction of evolving womanhood, self-awareness in a tight-knit community and the path back to family and history.’

TIME, Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2020

‘Kirabo, the heroine of this rangy, Ugandan-set novel, was the character I most enjoyed spending time with this year. We first meet her aged 12 in 1975, desperate to find her absent mother — who has her own dramatic tale. Makumbi braids Ugandan feminism, history and folklore into an utterly absorbing story.’

Daily Mail, Best Books of 2020

‘With The First Woman…Nansubuga Makumbi explores the power of women in a society bent on stripping them of it.’

Al Jazeera, Best Books of 2020 by African Writers

‘Joyful and intimate… Makumbi revels in the female perspective of this unusual, richly detailed coming-of-age story.’

Times Literary Supplement
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