22 May 2014 10:41

A Lancaster University lecturer has become the regional winner for Africa in the Commonwealth 2014 Short Story Prize.

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi from Uganda has a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, where she teaches in the Department of English and Creative Writing.

She is one of five regional winners of the prize for “Let’s Tell This Story Properly” which tells the story of Nnameya, a grieving widow when she arrives at Entebbe Airport from Manchester with her husband Kayita's coffin.

But then events take such a dramatic turn that she must relinquish her widowhood and fight.

Jennifer said: “I was overjoyed when I learnt that I had won the African leg of the Commonwealth prize and would represent Africa for the overall prize, especially this coming so soon after the Kwani Prize win and when I am about to launch my novel, Kintu.  

“Lancaster University is of course pivotal in the development of my career not only because of the funding I received when I wrote Kintu but also the continued offer of associate teaching which has further honed my writing skills.”

The competition is open to the 53 countries in the Commonwealth, where so far unpublished stories were entered by nearly 4,000 writers from Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

The regional winners will compete with each other to become the overall winner, who will be announced in Kampala, Uganda, on 13 June.

This year’s Chair is Ellah Allfrey, Deputy Chair of the Council of the Caine Prize and previously Deputy Editor of Granta and Senior Editor at Jonathan Cape, Random House.

She called Jennifer’s story “a bold, compact story about betrayal and the pull of tradition. In the end, the stories that impressed us the most were those that took risks – in subject and style.”

The judges reflect the five regions: Doreen Baingana, (Africa), Michelle de Kretser (Pacific), Marlon James (Caribbean), Courttia Newland (Canada and Europe) and Jeet Thayil (Asia).

Commonwealth Writers has partnered with Granta magazine to give the regional winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize the opportunity to be published by Granta online during the week of June 9.