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Manchester Happened

From the winner of the Jhalak Prize, 2021

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi



If there’s one thing the characters in Jennifer Makumbi’s stories know, it’s how to field an uncomfortable question.

‘Let me buy you a cup of tea…what are you doing in England?’

‘Do these children of yours speak any Luganda?’

‘Did you know that man Idi Amin?’

But perhaps the most difficult question of all is the one they ask themselves: ‘You mean this is England?’

As hilarious as they are compassionate, these vibrant stories re-imagine the journey of Ugandans who choose to make England their home. Weaving between Manchester and Kampala, this dazzling collection will captivate anyone who has ever wondered what it means to truly belong. 

  • Publication date: July 2, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781786077769
  • RRP: £8.99
  • Pages: 320
  • Publication date: May 23, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781786075895
  • RRP: £14.99
  • Pages: 320
  • Publication date: May 23, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781786075918
  • RRP: £4.99
  • Pages: 304


'A thoughtful writer who quietly, engagingly, pierces the reality of relocating to Britain. Manchester Happened explores the emotional nuance of the immigrant experience.'


'Majestic...exactly the stories we all need.'

Los Angeles Times

'Written with energy, passion and conviction, each one of the 12 stories is a jewel in its own right; collectively, they are a fascinating interrogation of the nature of identity and the pressing need for greater cultural integration.'

Harper's Bazaar

'A masterpiece. This collection of short stories will resonate...with those who know intimately that the space between "here and back home" is more than just distance.'

African Arguments, Best books by African writers, 2019

'Manchester Happened glitters with… Makumbi’s terrific turn of phrase… Dedicated to the 'fearless Ugandans in the diaspora' [Manchester Happened] provides an entertaining insight into their lives. It is a fascinating collection and confirms Makumbi as an exciting new voice.'

New Humanist

'These short stories span generations who experienced migration from Uganda to Britain and back again. They explore harsh realities such as racism, domestic abuse, sexual abuse, family break-ups, alcoholism and the lingering effects of colonialism. But there is humour among the cultural misunderstandings, petty snobberies and petty jealousies.'

Irish Times

'In her latest collection of short stories, Jennifer Makumbi speaks to the struggles of immigration... As much as their tone is light...they are also evidently indirectly political. You cannot run away from the searing undertones of alienation, struggle with identity, and finding a home away from home.'

The Star, (Kenya)

'The poorest Ugandan migrant returns home to the family for ceremonies and it's at these awesome occasions that Makumbi’s storytelling reaches its zenith. Humour ripples through even the most dire adventure… A treasure to be savoured.'

Country Style (Australia)

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a Ugandan novelist and short story writer. She has a PhD from Lancaster University. Her first novel, Kintu (Oneworld, 2018), won the Kwani? Manuscript Project in 2013 and was longlisted for the Etisalat Prize in 2014. She was awarded the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for ‘Let’s Tell This Story Properly’, which featured in her first collection, Manchester Happened (Oneworld, 2019). She was awarded the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction 2018 and lives in Manchester, where she lectures in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. In 2020, she was selected as one of 100 Most Influential Africans of 2020 by New African magazine.

Author page

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