Literary Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
#1  sun surfer 11-14-2020, 07:57 PM
'Uganda’s history reimagined through the cursed bloodline of the Kintu clan in an award-winning debut.

In 1750, Kintu Kidda unleashes a curse that will plague his family for generations. In this ambitious tale of a clan and of a nation, Makumbi weaves together the stories of Kintu’s descendants as they seek to break from the burden of their shared past and reconcile the inheritance of tradition and the modern world that is their future.'


There are two phases of discussion. The first begins immediately and may contain conversations about anything pre-completion of the selection including reading progress, section thoughts, outside info, etc. The second begins on the 1st and also includes anything post-completion. These are recommended to help us discuss things in a similar timeframe but anyone can discuss any part or aspect at any time.

This is the MR Literary Club selection for November 2020. Everyone is welcome so feel free to start or join in the conversation at any time; the more the merrier!

show attachment »show attachment »show attachment »show attachment »show attachment »show attachment »

#2  sun surfer 12-06-2020, 05:49 PM
I finished and thought the book was great. Without a doubt, I don't think we could've picked a better book to represent 'drawing on a nation's culture' as I felt I learnt so much about Uganda's culture past and present while reading.

#3  AnotherCat 12-07-2020, 12:57 AM
I have also finished but did not do so well. Not so sure about it as although the storyline was good I felt that it could have been written more fluidly so that the prose and the storyline flowed better. But I read it with a predominantly European mind and background.

The jumbling of long and short sentences in many places I found distracting. This didn't seem to me as being done for pace or other reasons, I felt (but know it was not so) that the author did not know what conjunctions were; many sentences seemed just cut in half into two. Some of the short sentences sounded as written by a student to me as they seemed overly perfunctory.

I have no knowledge of Ganda culture but the book flowed to me as from one where story telling has been predominantly orally based. The lack of pacing variation, looseness, etc. and the sentence structures mentioned above contributed to my feeling this. I felt for myself that wordiness was part of this as there seemed to be sentences that could be happily omitted without distracting from the storyline or its environment.

Because of those things, well I am assuming so, I got sidetracked a few times, rather like drifting off into my own thoughts when someone is telling a long story but rambling a bit and being loose with superfluous information. This may just be me though, because spending many hours in many organizations, especially public bodies and Government where the issue is worst, I have got into the habit of just tuning out when someone starts rambling on, stating irrelevant information, or not cutting to the chase.

It seems the book was the author's doctoral thesis; as far as I am aware I have only read one other book that I knew was written as a thesis and that was the NZ author Eleanor Catton's first novel The Rehearsal which read to me as being quite immature, but I managed to get through it. However, it was quite short whereas Kintu is quite long and that made me wonder if that length had caused a problem for me reading it. The book is obviously well researched and I think a lot of effort went into it so that the characters and their activities, and events through it are all knitted together, but I wonder if that effort has led to the author being distracted from writing it well in other respects (in my view). Perhaps "mechanical" is the appearance I am looking for, all the bits of the machine fit together but it doesn't look very pretty?

I think a positive to the book was its saving itself from the tired, overworked distractions of rabbiting on about Idi Amin, colonialism, laying blame, etc. (there was even what seemed to me to be an empathetic reference to John Hanning Speke by one of the characters). It did include random violence, tribal frictions, sexual behaviors, supernaturalism of the witch-doctorish kind, etc. which could be seen as fitting into their wider negative stereotyping of African cultures south of the Arab states by some in others. On the other hand I felt this was a book that an African writer could get away with it being written and read in the contemporary Western culture but if it had been written by a European author (especially if they were a male) they would likely need to hire security for protection from the easily triggered.

Perhaps if I spent as much time fitting the pieces of the storyline together as the author did (or as I have in figuring out why I was not that excited by it ) I may have enjoyed the book more? I think I would get more from it if I read it again but I am not up to that; maybe if it was shorter.

EDIT: Just as I finished writing this my son dropped by and left me a bottle of beer to try, I think I need it .

#4  Bookworm_Girl 12-08-2020, 02:15 AM
I am at 50%. I got delayed because I didn’t finish it in time from the library and had to wait to recheck it out. I’m glad I read the introduction first especially since it told you to pronounce the “k” as “ch.”

#5  sun surfer 12-08-2020, 01:49 PM
Very thought provoking post, AnotherCat! I'm going to think on it a bit. We definitely had a difference of experience with the book and that can make for interesting discussion.

#6  sun surfer 12-08-2020, 02:04 PM
Quote Bookworm_Girl
I am at 50%. I got delayed because I didn’t finish it in time from the library and had to wait to recheck it out. I’m glad I read the introduction first especially since it told you to pronounce the “k” as “ch.”
I remember you saying you would earlier. I waited until the end to circle back and read it. After finishing the book I wasn't surprised by much of what it said... except that! LOL. I spent the whole book thinking of the name with a hard k.

Speaking on pronunciation, I can see why there is no audiobook for this yet. They would have to find just the right narrator who could not only pronounce all the names correctly, but also do proper accents well enough for the various characters.

One other pronunciation issue I wondered about while reading was the pervasive double letter. I was imagining them as like a linguistic stop and then start again with the same sound, almost like a stutter. So in my mind for instance ppookino was pronounced 'p-poh-oh-kee-noh', kiyiika 'kee-yee-ee-ka', etc. I honestly have no idea where in my subconscious I came up with that but it sounded vaguely correct-ish, although I could be totally mispronouncing everything.

#7  Bookworm_Girl 12-08-2020, 04:12 PM
I read an interview with the author where she discusses language and how she had to argue with editors on some items because the spellings and pronunciations can be different regionally and she wanted to stay true to Buganda history rather than use the more popular commonly-known words. I can’t find the article now, or I would link it.

#8  Bookworm_Girl 01-03-2021, 08:46 PM
I finished this book too. I enjoyed it for being different and not a typical European colonialism plot line. I think it met the theme for the month very well. I wasn’t sure where all the individual stores where headed but liked how the paths all collided in the last part. I think the difficulty that I had was that the story was so long and winding that I found it difficult to keep track of all the characters. When I got to the last part I had to use the search function on my Kindle to look up the names and revisit the characters’ stories. Maybe that was because it took me so long to read the book because I had to put it aside when my library borrow ran out and wait for it on hold again to finish.

I read an interview by the author that talked about how she integrated storytelling oral tradition into the story, but I can’t find it now. Ugh. I will keep looking.

Today's Posts | Search this Thread | Login | Register