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Ugandan writer Jennifer Makumbi wins $165,000 Windham-Campbell Prize

Ugandan writer Jenninfer Makumbi is the latest recipient of the $165,000 Windham Campbell Prize. The Prize is awarded every year to eight artists. Makumbi is the author of Kintu, a novel based on Buganda oral history and myth.



Jennifer Makumbi is the author of Kintu a novel that won the Kwani? Manuscript Project Award in 2013. The Ugandan writer also won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2014 for Africa and for the globe. In 2015 she was shortlisted for the Miles Morland Scholarship.

Probably the leading Ugandan writer of her time, Makumbi did her Masters and PhD in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia and is based in Manchester in the United Kingdom.

The Windham Campbell Prize is awarded every year to eight writers in poetry, fiction, nonfiction and drama. The prize has been in existence for the past six years. African recipients of the prize include Aminatta Forna, Ivan Vladislavic, Teju Cole and Helon Habila.

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Jennifer Makumbi’s Kintu has been in the debate of whether it is the greatest Ugandan novel. Photo: facbook/AfricaWrites

The artists usually receive a phone call telling them they have won the prize. The prize seeks to help artists focus more on their craft.

Read: Angolan writer José Eduardo Agualusa wins €100,000 International Dublin Literary Award

According to the press release, “The director of the Windham-Campbell Prizes recently made the call of a lifetime to eight entirely surprised writers, informing them that they will each be recognized with a $165,000 USD / £118,775 GBP prize to support their writing. Awards will be conferred September 12-14 at an international literary festival at Yale, where the Prizes are based.”

Makumbi said for her, “This prize for me is like having been working without pay for a long time and then someone comes a long and says, ‘Will a salary for the past ten years do?’ Then you’re left speechless.”

Makumbi’s collection of short stories, Love Made in Manchester, is forthcoming from Transit Books in January 2019.