11 January 2018 14:33

A Lancaster University alumna’s prizewinning doctoral novel has been listed as one of the best forthcoming books of 2018 by The Guardian.

Dr Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s book ‘Kintu’ will be published by Oneworld this month and has been described as ‘The most important book to come out of Uganda in half a century’ by author of ‘The Last King of Scotland’, Giles Foden. 

Jennifer, a Ugandan novelist and short story writer, has a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. 

She studied at Lancaster University’s Department of English and Creative Writing from 2010 to 2013, where she also enjoyed being a lecturer until 2016. She has been writing full-time since then. 

An international student, she came to Lancaster on an Overseas Research Student Award Scheme scholarship and was supervised by Professor Graham Mort and Dr Lindsey Moore. 

“ ‘Kintu’ was first published in 2014 in Kenya by the Kwani Trust after it won the Kwani Manuscript Prize in 2013 which Graham encouraged me to submit to,” recalls Jennifer. 

Then it was longlisted for the Etisalat Prize in 2014 and published by Transit Books in the US in 2017 and appeared on Publishers Weekly as one of the top fictions in 2017. 

On 25 January ‘Kintu’ will be published and launched by One World in Britain at the Commonwealth Foundation. There will also be a launch in Manchester, where Jennifer now lives with her husband, Damian, and son, Jordan, on 21 February.

The award-winning novel vividly reimagines Uganda's troubled history through the cursed bloodline of the Kintu clan. Blending Ganda oral tradition, myth, folktale and history, Jennifer brings to life an extraordinarily colourful cast of characters to produce a powerful epic and a modern classic. 

Her short story ‘Let's Tell This Story Properly' won the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. 

She has just completed a collection of short stories which has been sold to Transit Books and is now working on her second novel. 

“Of all the universities I've taught at, I found Lancaster students to be incredibly focused and engaged,” said Jennifer. 

“I found colleagues, especially senior lecturers and heads of department, to be kind, most supportive and understanding. 

“I have fond memories of the physical place and atmosphere. I am also grateful to my supervisors Graham and Lindsey who worked with me on the novel.” 

Professor Graham Mort was thrilled to hear about Jennifer’s success.

 “This is a fantastic novel – ambitious, wide-ranging, seen through the lens of history, and alive to the ironies and energy of life in contemporary Uganda,” he said. 

“I am delighted that it is gaining the recognition it deserves and highlighting Lancaster’s links to new African writing.”