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Kintu Paperback – May 16, 2017
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"Magisterial."—The New York Review of Books
"With a novel that is inventive in scope, masterful in execution, she does for Ugandan literature what Chinua Achebe did for Nigerian writing."—Lesley Nneka Arimah, Guardian
"Kintu is a masterpiece, an absolute gem, the great Ugandan novel you didn't know you were waiting for."—Aaron Bady, The New Inquiry
"A masterpiece of cultural memory, Kintu is elegantly poised on the crossroads of tradition and modernity."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Makumbi takes a sniper’s aim at the themes of virility and power across time. Over the course of six rich sections, she fires not a single gratuitous shot."—Public Books
"Postcolonial literature is often thought of as a conversation between a native culture and a Western power that sought to dominate it . . . Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s marvelous Ugandan epic, Kintu, explodes such chauvinism."—Guernica
"Reminiscent of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, this work will appeal to lovers of African literature."—Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Passionate, original, and sharply observed, the novel decenters colonialism and makes Ugandan experience primary."—Book Riot
"With crisp details and precise prose, Makumbi draws us into the dynamic and vast world of Uganda—its rich history, its people’s intricate beliefs, and the collective weight of their steadfast customs."—World Literature Today"Some authors set the bar high with their debut work. Then there are authors like Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi whose first novel succeeds on such a stratospheric level it’s nearly impossible to imagine—or wait for—what she’ll write next."—Iowa Gazette
"Jennifer Makumbi’s Kintu is a charming fable, a wide-ranging historical fiction, and a critical historiography . . . fresh, intelligent, critical, and ambitious."—Bookwitty
"Makumbi’s characters are compelling as individuals, but it is their shared past and journey toward a shared future that elevate the novel to an epic and enigmatic masterpiece."—The Riveter
"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.”—Maaza Mengiste, author of Beneath the Lion's Gaze
"A work of bold imagination and clear talent."—Ellah Allfrey, editor of Africa39
"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."—Jamal Mahjoub, author of The Drift Latitudes
"Kintu is not just the story of a family, but a story of Uganda, a country whose history begins before colonization and encompasses far more than just that chapter."—Mary Pappalardo, New Delta Review
"Our histories and our names have stories that we cannot afford to keep quiet about."—Nyana Kakoma, Africa In Words
"Makumbi is clearly a creative genius."—Tope Salaudeen-Adegoke, Wawa Book Review
About the Author
Aaron Bady is a writer in Oakland and an editor at The New Inquiry.
- Publisher : Transit Books; Reprint edition (May 16, 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 446 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1945492015
- ISBN-13 : 978-1945492013
- Item Weight : 1.2 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.2 x 1.4 x 7.9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #251,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Technically, the novel does not dwell on descriptives nor does it lose the reader in the narrative. Rather to the point; yet, not lacking on visuals, side stories, and reference points.
I appreciate that it lets the reader figure out foreign terminology and use our own creativity and imagination, through the evolution of the storyline.
Very vivid, though not prescriptive, depicting of personality traits and surroundings allows the reader to easily visualize every single element: characters, villages, food, landscape, etc.
After merely 20 pages, you have already developed feelings for the characters. You can feel their plight and understand their (re)actions.
Short chapters and quick pace.
Cons: you can't wait until the unraveling. Drags it out a bit longer than needed.
So many characters with so many different names makes you lose track of whose who in book six, and even throughout.
Nevertheless, this is going into my top 10 of "modern" literary musts.
The premise of this book is that Kintu is the governor of a large area 200 years ago in Uganda, successful and with a large growing family, when he makes a tragic error which he tries to cover up, leading to a generational curse being placed on his family which they’re still facing centuries later. This book explores the impact of the curse on Kintu’s descendants even after 200 years, exploring the cyclical parallels of the curse generation after generation.
I feel like the separation of this novel into Books made sense. Until the very end, the stories in each book feel very much separates and even with the resolution, I don’t feel like it was enough to bring the novel cohesively together. There were A LOT of characters to keep track of but because each Book felt almost like a standalone, it wasn’t hard to keep up until the end when all the characters came together- but keeping a running list of the characters and who they were helped and it really wasn’t that hard. All the stories were incredibly strong and well-written and it wasn’t that hard to remember whose story was whose. I can see and understand why so many people love this book and love this author. The book was written in a very accessible way to readers but it was also a cerebral book. My brain felt very engaged and it made me think a lot- but for me, where this book was not “for me” was in the emotional aspect. This book was written featuring various distant extended family members who are descendants of Kintu experiencing a curse. Because of the peripatetic nature of the novel- it was hard (for me) to feel emotionally connected with any one character especially because of the style of storytelling where we meet the character, learn their curse-ridden back story, see them in some turmoil then end their story abruptly. Of course there were sad moments, upsetting moments, darkly humorous moments, disgusting moments- but I felt like this was a book that spoke more to my brain than to my emotions or feelings. Being an emotional reader, this made this brilliantly-written book a little empty for me. There was no real protagonist to root for or follow or relate to because the stories are so specific and are written with the sort of bland neutrality that you’re not quite sure what to make of. Yet there were several very well-developed characters with compelling stories or Books any of which felt like it could have been the lead or whole novel. This felt like a series of short stories that were kind of forced to link up at the end in a way that didn’t really match the heft of the preceding stories and I think if I hadn’t been waiting for that link up and anticipating what the convergence would be, I would have enjoyed this more. Overall, I did like this. Is it my favourite book, no? But I’m happy I read it, I love learning more about Ugandan history and new perspectives through this author’s characters and I think that whilst this author’s work might not be overtly my taste emotionally, the brilliance with language and dealing with complex themes that she brings to literature is becoming something I’m going to continue to seek out in future.
When Kintu accidentally kills his adopted son, a curse is unleashed on his entire lineage. The curse manifests mostly as mental illnesses. This is concerning to me because obviously this is part of the reason why a large part of the African population thinks mental illness is anything other than illness. The whole curse layer of the story did not sit right with me because everyone now knows mental illnesses are genetic, "curse" or not.
However the author weaves a compelling tale of family and the importance of staying together even when families scatter across the globe. I thoroughly enjoyed learning so much about Uganda. I liked the use of indigenous language, even though it's a bit disconcerting at first to keep reading words you don't understand here and there. You get used to it.
The Kintu family tree is massive and it can be hard to keep track of family members but I just focused on remembering those whose stories mattered. At the end, there's a good tying together of the entire tale. Solid work here. Cannot wait to read more African literature that is full of history.