Uganda’s turbulent history from 1750 to the present is rivetingly chronicled in this saga of a blighted family. From scenes amid the rituals, rivalries and treacheries of an 18th-century king’s court to mob violence in the slums of 21st-century Kampala, it seethes with energy and teems with memorable characters.
It may sound like a breathless narrative but Kintu is no chore. Makumbi, a natural storyteller, is skilful at subverting our expectations of characters, and each book is propelled by a teasing sense of mystery. The prose is smoky crisp, and the book’s setting, be it the barren landscape of o Lwera or the bustling market in Nakaseke Town, is vividly conjured. It is also, helpfully, a funny book. Of course, there is a large endgame in motion – being an epic, after all – but thankfully Makumbi never forgets to please the reader, never allows the structure to feel rigid.
...a multi-generational epic that is equal parts imagination and research... finely drawn, and full of detail and intrigue... The beauty of the book is that it gives a snapshot of different periods of Uganda’s history through characters who are dynamic and engaging, with interesting personal stories of their own. Kintu has been hailed as the “great Ugandan novel”, and deservedly so... There are some surprising historical omissions... Makumbi’s sentences are densely packed and lyrical... With a novel that is inventive in scope, masterful in execution, she does for Ugandan literature what Chinua Achebe did for Nigerian writing.