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Oneworld has acquired the rights to Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s second novel. Titled The First Woman, the novel is the third deal in an ongoing partnership between Jennifer and Oneworld, which includes the publications of her first novel, Kintu (2018) and the short story collection Manchester Happened (2019).

The Bookseller reports that Oneworld’s Juliet Mabey bought UK and Commonwealth rights, including audio to The First Woman, from Makumbi’s agent, James Macdonald Lockhart of Anthony Harwood Ltd. According to Mabey, Oneworld is “incrediby proud to showcase once again the work of a writer whose contribution to Ugandan literature the Guardian likened to Chinua Achebe’s for Nigerian writing.”

Below is Oneworld’s description of The First Woman:

A powerful feminist rendition of Ugandan origin tales, The First Woman tells the story of Kirabo, the equivalent of Eve in Ugandan mythology [….] Smart, headstrong and flawed, Kirabo is raised by doting grandparents in idyllic Nattetta in rural Uganda. But as she enters her teens, she starts to feel overshadowed by the absence of the mother she has never known.  At once epic and deeply personal, it tells the story of one young girl’s search for her mother, her discovery of what it means to be a woman throughout history and the implications for her future.

Despite Oneworld’s small size – its staff numbers about 20 individuals – and the fact that it only started a fiction list in 2009, Oneworld is the publisher behind the UK editions of the 2015 and 2016 winners of the Man Booker Prize:  A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014), by Marlon James, and The Sellout (2015), by Paul Beatty.

Makumbi has expressed delight that she will be publishing with Oneworld once again:

After publishing my first novel, Kintu and my second book, Manchester Happened, Oneworld is on board with my dreams, intentions and aspirations. Oneworld has handled my writing with sensitivity and understanding.

Makumbi gained global attention when her short story, “Let’s Tell This Story Properly,” won the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize in both the regional and overall categories – the first for an African. She has a PhD from Lancaster University and teaches Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. In 2018, she was awarded the prestigious Windham Campbell Prize. She lives in London with her husband and son.

We cannot wait until June 2020 for the release of Makumbi’s new novel!

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