Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi wins $165,000 Windham-Campbell Prize for her debut novel, Kintu

Ugandan writer Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi has won a prestigious 2018 Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction for her debut novel, Kintu.

Makumbi said:

This prize for me is like having been working without pay for a long time and then someone comes a long and says, ‘Will a salary for the past ten years do?’ Then you’re left speechless.

The prize was established in 2013 and aim to ‘call attention to literary achievement and provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns’.

Categories awarded are drama, non-fiction, fiction and poetry.

The prize judges said Makumbi ‘opens up a bold and innovatory vista in African letters, encompassing ancient wounds that disquiet the present, and offering the restitution to be found in memory and ritual’.

They continued:

Kintu tells the parallel stories of the fall of a cursed bloodline—the titular Kintu clan—and the rise of modern Uganda. With an extraordinarily ambitious and agile narrative voice that blends traditional oral storytelling with folk tales, mythology, and biblical elements, Makumbi delivers an incisive critique of contemporary Ugandan class, politics, and religion. Critic Aaron Bady has said that Kintu is a novel about how “all families are built out of silences and fictions.” Kintu traces the lineages of these lacunae, in the process charting new possibilities for the future of the African novel. Makumbi has a PhD in African Literature from Lancaster University, and has taught creative writing at colleges and universities around the United Kingdom. Her collection of short stories, Love Made in Manchester, is forthcoming from Transit Books in January 2019.


2018 Windham-Campbell Prize winners

  • Drama: Lucas Hnath (US) and Suzan-Lori Parks (US)
  • Non-fiction: Sarah Bakewell (UK) and Olivia Laing (UK)
  • Fiction: John Keene (US) and Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (Uganda/UK)
  • Poetry: Lorna Goodison (Jamaica) and Cathy Park Hong (US)

The awards will be conferred from 12-14 September 2018 at an international literary festival at Yale, where the prizes is based.

Categories Africa Fiction International

Tags Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi Kintu Uganda Windham-Campbell Prize

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