The Millions

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s Rising Star

When Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi began writing her ambitious novel A Girl Is a Body of Water in 1998, she knew it would center on a young woman’s coming of age in Uganda. What she didn’t anticipate is that she would revise the novel on and off for 20 years, perfecting the sweeping multigenerational tale while working full-time in nursing homes and airport security.

“I was so close to giving up,” says Makumbi, grinning, her yellow knit head wrap matching the cheery yellow walls of her living room in Manchester, England, where she also works as an adjunct professor. Behind her are stacks of books growing up like trees from the floor. That she can’t stop smiling on this Zoom call isn’t surprising: is giving Makumbi her starring moment, with the novel attracting buzz in publishing circles

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