Charis welcomes Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi in conversation with Novuyo Tshuma for a celebration of A Girl is a Body of Water an unforgettable, sweeping testament to the true and lasting connections between history, tradition, family, friends, and the promise of a different future. This event is co-hosted by the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History. This event takes place on crowdcast, Charis' virtual event platform. Register here.
In her thirteenth year, Kirabo confronts a piercing question: who is my mother? Kirabo has been raised by women in the small Ugandan village of Nattetta—her grandmother, her best friend, and her many aunts—but the absence of her mother follows her like a shadow. Seeking answers from Nsuuta, the local witch, Kirabo learns about the woman who birthed her, who she discovers is alive but not ready to meet. Nsuuta also helps Kirabo understand the emergence of a mysterious second self, a headstrong and confusing force inside her—this, says Nsuuta, is a streak of the “first woman”: an independent, original state that has been all but lost to women.
Kirabo’s journey to reconcile these feelings, alongside her desire to reconnect with her mother and to honor her family’s expectations, is rich in the folklore of Uganda and an arresting exploration of what it means to be a modern girl in a world that seems determined to silence women.
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a Ugandan fiction writer. Jennifer is a recipient of the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize 2018. Her first novel, Kintu, won the Kwani? Manuscript Project in 2013. She has a PhD from Lancaster University and is a senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Novuyo Rosa Tshuma is the author of the novel House of Stone, winner of the 2019 Edward Stanford Travel Writing Award for Fiction with a Sense of Place and the 2019 Bulawayo Arts Award for Outstanding Fiction. A native of Zimbabwe, she holds a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston, an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, and a BComm in Economics and Finance from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.
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“Makumbi is such an honest, truthful writer. . . . I loved every single page.” —Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage
A Best Book of the Year at TIME; The Washington Post; O, the Oprah Magazine; BBC
Winner of the Jhalak Prize
Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2017
Winner of the Windham-Campbell Prize
Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize
A soaring and sublime epic. One of those great stories that was just waiting to be told.--Marlon James, Man Booker Prize-winning author of A Brief History of Seven Killings