In our continuing Book Digest series, we share with you new books from Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Yaa Gyasi, and Beata Umubyeyi Mairesse.
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, The First Woman/A Girl is a Body of Water
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Publication Date: October 1, 2020
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is the writer of the novel Kintu (2014) and the short story collection Manchester Happened (2019). The new book from the Uganda-born Manchester UK-based multiple award-winning writer is The First Woman (UK) or A Girl is a Body of Water (USA). The cover for the book was revealed in June; this blogger is currently reading it and it is really good.
For one young girl, discovering what it means to become a woman in a family, a community and a country determined to silence her will take all the courage she has.
Growing up in a small Ugandan village, Kirabo is surrounded by powerful women. Her grandmother, her aunts, her friends and cousins are all desperate for her to conform, but Kirabo is inquisitive, headstrong and determined. Up until now, she has been perfectly content with her life at the heart of this prosperous extended family, but as she enters her teenage years, she begins to feel the absence of the mother she has never known. The First Woman follows Kirabo on her journey to becoming a young woman and finding her place in the world, as her country is transformed by the bloody dictatorship of Idi Amin.
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi has written a sweeping tale of longing and rebellion, at once epic and deeply personal, steeped in an intoxicating mix of ancient Ugandan folklore and modern feminism, that will linger in the memory long after the final page.
Beata Umubyeyi Mairesse, Ejo: Suivi de Lézardes et autres nouvelles
Publication Date: September 30, 2020
Genre: Short story collection
Blurb (Translated from French using Google translate)
“Ejo”: in Rwanda, the same word means “yesterday” and “tomorrow.” One word to remember the faded times and tell what life can be like after the genocide of the Tutsi. The thirty short stories in this collection bring us with tenderness and lucidity into the intimacy of women and children whose fate is turned upside down by history. A mosaic of tones, between disenchantment and hope, to reaffirm our common humanity.
Yaa Gyasi, Transcendent Kingdom
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
Genre: novel, fiction
Yaa Gyasi’s stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national best seller Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama.
Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience at the Stanford University School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after an ankle injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her. But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family’s loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive. Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief–a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi’s phenomenal debut.