A powerful feminist rendition of Ugandan origin tales, The First Woman tells the story of Kirabo. Smart, headstrong and flawed, Kirabo is raised by doting grandparents in idyllic Nattetta in rural Uganda. But as she enters her teens, she starts to feel overshadowed by the absence of the mother she has never known. At once epic and deeply personal, it tells the story of one young girl’s search for her mother, her discovery of what it means to be a woman throughout history and the implications for her future.
“A Girl is a Body of Water (The First Woman) is a wonder, as clear, vivid, moving, powerful, and captivatingly unpredictable as water itself–from the ‘irate noises’ of Nnankya’s stream to the ‘theatrical’ rains of Nattetta with which Makumbi’s women wash, delight, and sate themselves. With wry wisdom, great humor, and deep complexity, Makumbi has created a feminist coming-of-age classic for the ages, sure to join the company of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions, and Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet. Being surrounded by Makumbi’s women—young and old—as they each struggle in different ways to clarify and achieve mwenkanonkano, feels like love, feels like learning–and best of all it often feels, as she puts it, ‘like mischief’!”
Namwali Serpell, The Old Drift