Book Review: Manchester Happened by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

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Title – Manchester Happened

Author – Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Publication – May 23rd, 2019.

Publisher – One World Publications

Genre – Short Story Collection & Ugandan Fiction

An ambitious and assured collection of short stories from the internationally acclaimed author of Kintu

If there’s one thing the characters in Jennifer Makumbi’s stories know, it’s how to field a question.

‘Let me buy you a cup of tea… what are you doing in England?’

‘Do these children of yours speak any Luganda?’

‘Did you know that man Idi Amin?’

But perhaps the most difficult question of all is the one they ask themselves: ‘You mean this is England?’

Told with empathy, humour and compassion, these vibrant, kaleidoscopic stories re-imagine the journey of Ugandans who choose to make England their home. Weaving between Manchester and Kampala, this dazzling, polyphonic collection will captivate anyone who has ever wondered what it means to truly belong.

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I’ve read many collections of short stories which endings leave me feeling unsettled and bothered because of how abrupt the stories end but this isn’t the case with this book. All stories end perfectly and I found myself chuckling out loud in public spaces while reading this book, which is the best collections of short stories I have ever read since my primary school days.

I laugh in the face of people who think writing short stories is easier than writing a novel. And not just any kind of short story, one with the all the best characteristics of a novel, go ahead…try it, let’s see how easy it is.

I highly love Jennifer Makumbi’s writing and I am so happy she fought for this collection to be published! This pressed on the fact I need to read Kintu ASAP.

One thing I learnt from reading this collection is that we African’s really have characteristics that bind us despite how different our traditions and culture are. I really loved reading about the Ugandans and is it just me but I spotted some connections in the stories that were told, like “Our Allies the Colonies” and “The Nod”

“Let’s Tell This Story Properly” had my heart in my throat and my anger, but what is wonderful throughout is how powerful and inspiring Nnam is.

Of course, my favourite story in the collection is “Memoirs of a Namaaso” because hello a huge canine lover over here. It’s also a story that leaves me 100% curious because of how bittersweet it is.

Of all the humans in the story my favourite was Poonah and I love how we get to follow her in not one but two stories. “In Love Made in Manchester” Masaaba had me in shock and anticipating how the story would end and I love I felt all the intended emotions the story was meant to evoke.

If I was a white person or someone of lower intellect I would be complaining about how this book doesn’t explain the many Ugandan words and expression and be crying about the—*blasphemous* fact there’s no glossary to explain them. Ladies and gentlemen, there’s google and let it be the norm for writers whose indigenous languages aren’t English to use their indigenous words in their books because it is 100% normal for them.

Each of the stories are wonderful and portray beautiful people going about their normal lives. The writing is well put together and definitely unproblematic. The storytelling is seamless and easy to follow. Need I say more? What are you waiting for? Add this book to your TBR if you’ve not read it already!

5

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Manchester Happened by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

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