Summary and book reviews of Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi X
Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
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  • Paperback:
    May 2017, 446 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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Book Summary

First published in Kenya in 2014 to critical and popular acclaim, Kintu is a modern classic, a multilayered narrative that reimagines the history of Uganda through the cursed bloodline of the Kintu clan.

Divided into six sections, the novel begins in 1750, when Kintu Kidda sets out for the capital to pledge allegiance to the new leader of the Buganda Kingdom. Along the way, he unleashes a curse that will plague his family for generations. In an ambitious tale of a clan and a nation, Makumbi weaves together the stories of Kintu's descendants as they seek to break from the burden of their shared past and reconcile the inheritance of tradition and the modern world that is their future.

Buddu Province, Buganda
The Moon of Gatonya, 1750

The party formed a snaking retinue. They walked downhill from Kintu's courtyard, through cultivated plots on his land, past silent shadowy houses until they came to the bottom near the well where village residents collected water. The moon, as if shy, still hid behind a cloud. But midnight darkness was beginning to loosen. Kintu looked in the distance but the night yielded no horizon. Yet to him, the landscape was clear. He knew every rise and fall in the earth, every bush and thicket and every old tree intimately.

By the time the party came to Nswera, a large stream that cut Kiyirika Village off from the rest of Buddu Province, the fireflies had gone to sleep. The moon now tailed them at a distance like a nosy little brother. It was good timing, the walkers needed light to cross the swamp. Nswera was in a huge basin: its edges were steep while the bottom was flat.

Ten men descended into the swamp before Kintu allowed his sons to...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Kintu is by far my favorite book of the year (perhaps of the past several), and it will undoubtedly appeal to fiction lovers who enjoy immersing themselves in other cultures. I found this debut absolutely unforgettable and am sure it will win Makumbi many fans. Highly recommended!   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Full Review (844 words).

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Media Reviews

New Delta Review

Kintu is not just the story of a family, but a story of Uganda, a country whose history begins before colonialization and encompasses far more than just that chapter.

The New Inquiry

Kintu is a masterpiece, an absolute gem, the great Ugandan novel you didn't know you were waiting for.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A masterpiece of cultural memory, Kintu is elegantly poised on the crossroads of tradition and modernity.

Library Journal

Starred Review. Reminiscent of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, this work will appeal to lovers of African literature.

Nyana Kakoma, Africa In Words
Our histories and our names have stories that we cannot afford to keep quiet about.

Author Blurb Maaza Mengiste, author of Beneath the Lion's Gaze
This is an extraordinary novel about a family bound together by love, betrayal, and an age-old curse, told in gripping language that continually surprises. A literary triumph.

Author Blurb Ellah Allfrey, editor of Africa39
A work of bold imagination and clear talent.

Author Blurb Jamal Mahjoub, author of The Drift Latitudes
An ambitious modern epic that takes in family saga and the history of Uganda, fusing the urgency of the present with the timelessness of myth.

Wawa Book Review

Makumbi is clearly a creative genius.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

A Brief History of Uganda

Kintu is set in Uganda, a landlocked country in central Africa bordered by South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and The Democratic Republic of Congo. It is home to approximately 39 million individuals (2015).

Human activity in the region that is now Uganda dates back at least 50,000 years as evidenced by stone tools found in the area. Around 2000 years ago, it is thought that Bantu-speaking people started to settle the area bringing with them simple agriculture and use of metal tools. Etymologically speaking, Bantu simply means "people." The Bantu peoples most likely migrated from near modern-day Nigeria around 3,000 years ago eventually spreading across most of sub-Saharan Africa. Today there are over 300 ...

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