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The First Woman


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A dazzling feminist coming of age tale from the award-winning author of Kintu

About the Author

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a Ugandan novelist and short story writer. She has a PhD from Lancaster University. Her first novel, Kintu (Oneworld, 2018), won the Kwani? Manuscript Project in 2013 and was longlisted for the Etisalat Prize in 2014. She was awarded the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for her story 'Let's Tell This Story Properly', which featured in her first short story collection, Manchester Happened (Oneworld, 2019). She was awarded the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction 2018, and lives in Manchester with her husband and son, where she lectures in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.


'The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is the feminist coming-of-age story we've been waiting for. With the timeless quality of a story shared from lips to ears, this novel is a page-turner and a mind-blower.' Tayari Jones, author or An American Marriage

‘Ugandan literature can boast of an international superstar in Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi.’ Economist

'The genius of this novel is in its subtlety: home truths about the treatment of women throughout history are hidden like gems within the utterly engaging tale of a single girl... So, I’m calling it now: The First Woman will soon be considered a coming-of-age classic. And rightly so.' Stylist

'Makumbi balances heartbreak with humour… The novel is also a discourse on power (whether political, social or sexual), but executed with a beautifully light touch.' Daily Telegraph

'A beautiful coming-of-age story...steeped in folklore and feminism, rebellion and longing.' Evening Standard

'Fantastic... Packed with passion and drama — and in possession of sharp political elbows — The First Woman finally becomes a moving and resonant celebration of sisterhood.' Daily Mail

'A novel bursting with resilience and warmth... Mixing the mythic and the modern, happily ignoring formal neatness to encompass Uganda's miscellaneousness, it's an enthralling achievement.' The Sunday Times

'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

'Superb. An intoxicating tale that combines mythic and modern elements to make the headiest of feminist brews.' Irenosen Okojie, author of Nudibranch  

'A powerful coming-of-age tale… Kirabo is a fantastic character – headstrong and curious – and the way Ugandan myths are woven through the story is mesmerising.' Good Housekeeping

'Kirabo's odyssey makes for a riveting, exuberant novel, a coming-of-age like no other.' O, The Oprah Magazine, 'Best Books of 2020'

'Joyful and intimate... Makumbi revels in the female perspective of this unusual, richly detailed coming-of-age story.' Times Literary Supplement

'Captivating, wise, humorous and tender: Makumbi has come back stronger than ever... A riveting read.' Maaza Mengiste, author of The Shadow King

'A lively, engaging read... Its energy derives from its considerable wit and the charm of its central character.' Guardian

'The First Woman is a wonder... Clear, vivid, moving, powerful, and captivatingly unpredictable... With wry wisdom, great humour, and deep complexity, Makumbi has created a feminist coming-of-age classic for the ages.' Namwali Serpell, author of The Old Drift

'Bursting with resilient humour, the novel is as engaging as it is informative.' The Times, 'Best Books of 2020'

'Makumbi's prose is irresistible and poignant, with remarkable wit, heart and charm... The First Woman rewards the reader with one of the most outstanding heroines.' New York Times

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