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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Kintu (2014) by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi,

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Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, author of Kintu, release last year in the United States

Kintu (2014)
by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi,
United States  Publication 2017 Transit Press

  Kintu, by Ugandan author Jennifer Nasubuga Makumbi, was originally published in 2014, but it got a United States release late last year, by Transit Press. That sentence alone should tell anyone that Kintu is a break-out kind of book.   It makes sense- Uganda is an English speaking country with a national identity that pre-dates English colonialism.  The reputation for Uganda as a location for horrific tragedy is decades out of date and the political situation has stabilized to the point where the absence of news stories in the west about Uganda is seen as a relief.

  In Kintu, Makumbi has written the type of novel that slots neatly into the expectation of Western readers- she tracks back and forth in history from the mid 18th century to just about present day, charting the fortunes of the descendants of Kintu- an 18th century nobleman in the pre-English Bugandan Empire. Like other cultures, Ugandans (the dominant ethnicity are the Ganda people, but present day Uganda was long a draw for other ethnicities, notably Tutsi's, who play a part in this book.

  Kintu is permeated with the Ganda traditions regarding twins- it's not too much to say that twins are the central narrative theme here, twins and their relationship to the generational curse that torments Kintu and his descendants.   Kintu is very much the type of novel that only fully establishes it's reputation years after the initial publication date, and I think Makumbi is very much putting Uganda on the international literary map with this book.

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