Lancaster University lecturer wins Commonwealth prize

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

A Lancaster University lecturer has won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2014.

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi from Uganda has a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster where she teaches in the Department of English and Creative Writing.

The Commonwealth award was presented in Kampala by the novelist and short-story writer Romesh Gunesekera.

Jennifer said winning the overall prize was like “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.”

Her short story entitled “Let’s Tell This Story Properly” was praised by the judges for what they called its “risk taking, grace and breadth”.

It is about Nnameya, a Ugandan woman living in Manchester whose husband collapses and dies. She flies back to Entebbe Airport with his coffin for the funeral, only to discover a web of deception.

The Chair of the judging panel Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, said Jennifer’s story was “a bold, compact story about betrayal and the pull of tradition.“

The competition was open to the 53 countries in the Commonwealth, unpublished stories entered by nearly 4,000 writers.

Jennifer’s doctoral novel, The Kintu Saga, won the Kwani Manuscript Project in 2013.

Jennifer is currently working on her second novel Nnambi.