Dr Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi has been awarded the 2018 Windham-Campbell Prize in Fiction, which includes a grant of $165,000, to support her writing.
Jennifer, a Ugandan novelist and short story writer, will be honoured along with her fellow recipients in drama, poetry, fiction and nonfiction at a ceremony and literary festival at Yale in September.
Writers from around the world are nominated confidentially and judged anonymously for the prestigious award. The call that prize recipients receive from programme director Michael Kelleher is the first time they learn of their consideration.
Jennifer described being awarded the prize as a “dream come true”. She said: “Writing so far is a pleasure and fulfilling in many ways but not financially to me.
“This award means I don’t have to worry about bills first and foremost. It also means that my writing will reach people I did not dream to reach. That is a dream come true.”
Jennifer’s debut novel, Kintu, won the Kwani? Manuscript Project Award in 2013, and was subsequently published by Transit Books and Oneworld Publications.
Kintu is the story of a cursed bloodline. It begins with a man beaten to death by a mob after being mistaken for a thief in a market outside Kampala and traces his fate to his ancestor, the titular Kintu. The inter-generational story delves into ancestry, the supernatural, mental illness, and patriarchy, all while examining what it means to be Ugandan.
Hailed as “the great Ugandan novel,” Kintu goes into great detail explaining 18th-century life at court in the Kingdom of Buganda and the enduring fabric of what makes a Ugandan family, then and now. It does not, however, spend much time on the entrance of colonialism or the violent reign of military dictator Idi Amin in the 1970s.