The First Woman (Paperback)Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (author)
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Set amidst the brutality of Idi Amin’s Uganda, Makumbi's wise and tender novel is a hymn to survival, rebellion and the enduring power of the female spirit.
Shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize for Fiction 2021
Shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize 2021
For one young girl, discovering what it means to become a woman in a family, a community and a country determined to silence her will take all the courage she has.
Growing up in a small Ugandan village, Kirabo is surrounded by powerful women. Her grandmother, her aunts, her friends and cousins are all desperate for her to conform, but Kirabo is inquisitive, headstrong and determined. Up until now, she has been perfectly content with her life at the heart of this prosperous extended family, but as she enters her teenage years, she begins to feel the absence of the mother she has never known. The First Woman follows Kirabo on her journey to becoming a young woman and finding her place in the world, as her country is transformed by the bloody dictatorship of Idi Amin.
Jennifer Makumbi has written a sweeping tale of longing and rebellion, at once epic and deeply personal, steeped in an intoxicating mix of ancient Ugandan folklore and modern feminism, that will linger in the memory long after the final page.
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Number of pages: 448
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 33 mm
'The First Woman is captivating, wise, humorous and tender: Makumbi has come back stronger than ever. This is a tale about Kirabo and her family, and her place in the world as she searches for her mother and a true sense of belonging. But most of all, this is a book about the stories that define us, and those we tell to redefine ourselves. A riveting read.' - Maaza Mengiste, author of The Shadow King
'Jennifer Makumbi is a genius storyteller.' - Reni Eddo-Lodge
'At turns rapturous and devastating... Makumbi's writing uplifts and inspires, evoking the grand tradition of folklore and stories passed down, one woman to the next.' - Refinery29
'The First Woman is a wonder, as clear, vivid, moving, powerful, and captivatingly unpredictable as water itself... With wry wisdom, great humor, and deep complexity, Makumbi has created a feminist coming-of-age classic for the ages.' - Namwali Serpell, author of The Old Drift
'A mesmerizing feminist epic.' - O, the Oprah magazine
'Makumbi's prose is irresistible and poignant, with remarkable wit, heart and charm - poetic and nuanced, brilliant and sly, openhearted and cunning, balancing discordant truths in wise ruminations. The First Woman rewards the reader with one of the most outstanding heroines and the incredible honor of journeying by her side.' - The New York Times
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Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s The First Woman is a beautiful tale of a girl – Kirabo – growing up in Uganda in the 1970s.
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The First Woman is an interesting, if sometimes inaccessible, read about the role of women in Ugandan society.
Kirabo, the main character, is a young teenager in the 1970s amid the backdrop of Idi Amin’s rule, and... More
“At it’s heart, ‘The First Woman’ is a feminist interpretation of these old Ugandan origin tales. An usual and beautiful story.”
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