Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi Wins the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Alert! Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi of Uganda is the overall winner in the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, it was announced last night, for her story Let’s Tell This Story Properly, which the prize judges praised for “its risk- taking, grace and breadth.” She receives £5000 along with the award.

“This is a dream. For Uganda, once described as a literary desert, it shows how the country’s literary landscape is changing and I am proud to be a part of it. The Commonwealth Short story Prize will help bring attention to Ugandan writing at a global level,” said Jennifer Makumbi, who lives in Manchester, UK.

Makubmi, who was also the 2014 Africa Region winner, competed for the overall prize with writers from Asia, Canada and Europe, Caribbean, and the Pacific. Last year’s Africa Region winner was South Africa’s Julian Jackson; it was also announced by the Commonwealth Foundation last year that the prize would be limited to short fiction only (previously there had also been a prize for a novel).

Hearty congratulations to Makumbi! Here’s more about the author:

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a Ugandan novelist and short story writer. She studied Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. In 2012, her short story The Accidental Seaman was published in Moss Side Stories by Crocus Books. In 2013, her poems, Free Range, and Father cried in the kitchen were published in Sweet Tongues. Jennifer also has a PHD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and her doctoral novel, The Kintu Saga, won the Kwani Manuscript Project in 2013. The novel will be published in the summer of 2014 under the title Kintu. Jennifer teaches creative writing at Lancaster University and is currently working on her second novel, Nnambi.

[Via press release]

Here’s more on the event and Makumbi’s reaction:

Makumbi, who teaches creative writing at Lancaster University and is currently working on her second novel, Nnambi, said she was “over the moon” to win the Commonwealth award, which was presented in Kampala by the novelist and short-story writer Romesh Gunesekera.

“It was the usual reaction – first you cry, then you jump, then you cry again, then dance, and then you don’t really know how to react,” she said. “This is a dream. For Uganda, once described as a literary desert, it shows how the country’s literary landscape is changing and I am proud to be a part of it.”

Press release:

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi from Uganda has won the Commonwealth 2014 Short Story Prize. The judges praised her short story, Let’s Tell This Story Properly, for its risk- taking, grace and breadth.

The winning story is about a grieving widow who arrives at Entebbe Airport from Manchester with her husband’s coffin, but events take such a dramatic turn that she must relinquish her widowhood and fight. “This is a dream. For Uganda, once described as a literary desert, it shows how the country’s literary landscape is changing and I am proud to be a part of it. The Commonwealth Short story Prize will help bring attention to Ugandan writing at a global level,” said Jennifer Makumbi, who lives in Manchester, UK.

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize unearths, identifies and develops original voices from the 53 countries of the Commonwealth. This year unpublished stories were entered by nearly 4,000 writers from the five Commonwealth regions. The award was presented in Kampala, Uganda, on 13 June by the novelist and short story writer Romesh Gunesekera.

The judges represent the five regions of the Commonwealth: Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, Caribbean, and the Pacific: Doreen Baingana, (Africa), Jeet Thayil (Asia), Courttia Newland (Canada and Europe), Marlon James (Caribbean) and Michelle de Kretser (Pacific).

The Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2000-5000 words). Regional winners received £2,500 and the Overall Winner receives £5,000.

Chair of the judging panel, Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, said: “The winning stories from each region boasted craft, intelligence and ambition. Choosing one overall winner felt an impossible task. In the end, we felt that the characterisation in Jennifer Makumbi’s Let’s Tell This Story Properly, with its bereaved widow living in London and gaggle of feisty ‘women of a certain age’ disrupting a funeral, and its narrative style that draws on a powerful national heritage of dramatic story-telling, significantly expanded our understanding of the possibilities of the short story form.”

Lucy Hannah, Programme Manager, Commonwealth Writers, said: “This year the entries to the Commonwealth Short Story Prize almost doubled. The popularity of the short form is growing and Commonwealth Writers is proud to promote the strongest new voices from across the Commonwealth, such as Jennifer Makumbi.”

Commonwealth Writers has an association with the London-based literary and media agency Blake Friedmann, which will work with selected writers identified through the Prize. Juliet Pickering, agent at Blake Friedmann, said: “It has been eye-opening, inspiring and wonderful to read the range of entries from these Commonwealth Short Story writers. British publishing should always be seeking new voices from around the world, and I feel very lucky to have glimpsed a selection of some of the finest writing talent from the Commonwealth countries, and look forward to working with these writers in the future.”

Ends

 

Please register or log in to comment