Book Title: The First Woman

Author:Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Publisher:  Oneworld Publications

Format: Paperback

Category: Historical, Coming-of-Age, Literary Fiction.

Source: Gifted

Pages: 448 pages


At once epic and deeply personal, The First Woman is the bold and piercing story of one young girl’s discovery of what it means to be a woman in a family, a community and a country that seem determined to silence her. Steeped in the rich folklore of Uganda but with an eye firmly on the future, Jennifer Makumbi has crafted a sweeping, effervescent tale of longing, femininity and courage.

Book Review [spoilers free]

The First Woman which is companion to Makumbi’s debut novel Kintu is; an epic saga multigenerational read about identity, history, Uganda folklore, family secrets, femininity, the patriarchal society, resistance and more.

First I must praise the author for a masterpiece novel like this. The storytelling in this book was compelling and captivating.

The way it unfolded gradually showed, she wasn’t in a rush to tell the story. I’m not a lover of fantasy, I loved the magical realism which was sprinkled in this book.

The writing of The First Woman, started in 1998 which the primary aim was to tell the world that Africans work hard. This prove turns out not only unapologetically African, it served us every bit of history.

Through writing, Makumbi was able to show us what it means to be able to speak about your history. To tell the story to the world.
The prose brilliantly and flawless crafted.

The characters were interesting, engaging, had diverse behaviours and were complex. The protagonist was a heroine that changed narratives; a force.

The themes were versatile ranging from the intricate societal issues to the expectations, abilities, and roles of womanhood, power dynamics, colonialism and modern feminism which played a huge role.

The feminism angle on which this book took was fascinating and powerful. And just as Makumbi has said, African women are taking the novel and doing things with it.

Feminism in Africa, has always had this misconception. It is not our culture, it is western and has come to destroy our culture.

Makumbi proved to us, feminism has been in Africa. It has been there.
Woman have been fighting their position in the world, and refusing to let their voice to be silenced.

The First Woman is a novel filled with powerful quotes worth highlighting and framed. I highly do recommend to be read.

About Author

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a Ugandan novelist and short story writer. She has a PhD from Lancaster University. Her first novel, Kintu (Oneworld, 2018), won the Kwani? Manuscript Project in 2013 and was longlisted for the Etisalat Prize in 2014. She was awarded the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for her story ‘Let’s Tell This Story Properly’, which featured in her first short story collection, Manchester Happened (Oneworld, 2019). She was awarded the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction 2018, and lives in Manchester with her husband and son, where she lectures in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.

There are reviews to KINTU and Manchester Happened

Buy Links

Amazon Rovingheights KOBO Oneworld Publications

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

  1. Haven’t really read it but I should tell you that this review is enough for me to want the book badly. 😁✌️

    Would love to read it as soon as I can get it.

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