About the Book
In her twelfth year, Kirabo, a young Ugandan girl, confronts a piercing question that has haunted her childhood: who is my mother? Kirabo has been raised by women in the small village of Nattetta—her grandmother, her best friend, and her many aunts, but the absence of her mother follows her like a shadow. Complicating these feelings of abandonment, as Kirabo comes of age she feels the emergence of a mysterious second self, a headstrong and confusing force inside her at odds with her sweet and obedient nature.
Seeking answers, Kirabo begins spending afternoons with Nsuuta, a local witch, trading stories and learning not only about this force inside her, but about the woman who birthed her, who she learns is alive but not ready to meet. Nsuuta also explains that Kirabo has a streak of the “first woman”—an independent, original state that has been all but lost to women.
Kirabo’s journey to reconcile her rebellious origins, alongside her desire to reconnect with her mother and to honor her family’s expectations, is rich in the folklore of Uganda and an arresting exploration of what it means to be a modern girl in a world that seems determined to silence women. Makumbi’s unforgettable novel is a sweeping testament to the true and lasting connections between history, tradition, family, friends, and the promise of a different future
About the Author
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a Ugandan fiction writer.
Her first novel, Kintu, won the Kwani? Manuscript Project in 2013. Her second book is a collection of short stories, Manchester Happened for the UK/Commonwealth publication and Let’s Tell This Story Properly (for US/Canada publication) came out in Spring 2019. It was shortlisted for The Big Book prize: Harper’s Bazaar. Her third book, The First Woman for UK/Commonwealth and A Girl is a Body of Water for USA/Canada publication came out in Autumn 2020.
Jennifer is a recipient of the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize 2018. She won the Global Commonwealth Short story prize 2014 for her short story, Let’s Tell This Story Properly. She is a Cheuse International Writing Fellow (2019) and KNAW-NAIS residency (2021).
She has a PhD from Lancaster University and has been (senior) lecturer at several universities in Britain.