Oneworld snaps up Makumbi's 'magnificent' second novel

Oneworld snaps up Makumbi's 'magnificent' second novel

Oneworld has snapped up the “magnificent” second novel from Windham-Campbell prize-winner Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi.

Publisher Juliet Mabey bought UK and Commonwealth rights including audio to The First Woman, from James Macdonald Lockhart of Anthony Harwood Ltd. The book, billed as the companion to her acclaimed debut Kintu, will be published on 4th June 2020.

“A powerful feminist rendition of Ugandan origin tales, The First Woman tells the story of Kirabo, the equivalent of Eve in Ugandan mythology,” Oneworld said.  “Smart, headstrong and flawed, Kirabo is raised by doting grandparents in idyllic Nattetta in rural Uganda. But as she enters her teens, she starts to feel overshadowed by the absence of the mother she has never known.  At once epic and deeply personal, it tells the story of one young girl’s search for her mother, her discovery of what it means to be a woman throughout history and the implications for her future.”

Makumbi is the winner of the Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction and a lecturer in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her first novel, Kintu (Oneworld, 2018) won the Kwani? Manuscript Project and was shortlisted for an Edward Stanford Travel Writing Prize.  Her collection of short stories Manchester Happened (Oneworld, 2019), including the Commonwealth Short Story Prize-winning “Let’s Tell This Story Properly”, was shortlisted for the Hearst Big Book Awards 2019. 

She said: “I am delighted that Oneworld has bought the rights to The First Woman. After publishing my first novel, Kintu and my second book, Manchester Happened, Oneworld is on board with my dreams, intentions and aspirations. Oneworld has handled my writing with sensitivity and understanding.”

Mabey added: “Jennifer is one of the most exciting authors writing today, and we are incredibly proud to showcase once again the work of a writer whose contribution to Ugandan literature the Guardian likened to Chinua Achebe’s for Nigerian writing. The First Woman is a sweeping coming-of-age novelinfused both with Ugandan folklore and its musicality of language, and brilliantly showcases Makumbi’s originality and stylish storytelling. It’s a magnificent achievement, and we have a very ambitious campaign lined up for this novel.”