cover image Kintu


Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. Transit (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (446p) ISBN 978-1-945492-01-3

Makumbi’s debut novel is a sprawling family chronicle that explores Uganda’s national identity through a brilliant interlacing of history, politics, and myth. In 2004, a man named Kamu Kintu is branded a thief and killed by a vicious crowd. While his body lies unclaimed in the mortuary, we follow Kintu’s lineage back to 1750, when the ambitious Kintu Kidda journeys with his tribe to pay tribute to the new regent of the Kingdom of Buganda, with whom he hopes to gain favor. Instead, he inadvertently causes the death of his own son and awakens a curse that will plague his offspring for generations. There’s Suubi Nnakintu, who takes a taxi bound for the village of her youth, hoping to find the biological father who abandoned her; the Christian convert Kanani Kintu who, with his wife, stakes his place in heaven on Ugandan Independence; precocious Isaac Newton Kintu, whose future depends on the results of an HIV test; and the slain Kamu’s father, Miisi Kintu, a western-educated doctor struggling against both negative stereotypes of Africans abroad and prejudice among his countrymen at home. All of the members of the Kintu bloodline must come together and reckon with the past and their place in their country if they are ever to be free of the curse that claimed Kamu. A masterpiece of cultural memory, Kintu is elegantly poised on the crossroads of tradition and modernity. (May)