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Manchester Happened

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  133 ratings  ·  38 reviews
An ambitious and assured collection of short stories from the internationally acclaimed author of Kintu

If there's one thing the characters in Jennifer Makumbi's stories know, it's how to field a 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
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Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 23rd 2019 by Oneworld Productions
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Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
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Richard Derus
Jun 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4* of five

This is one of the stories that's up for The Caine Prize for African Writing 2016. Winners will be announced on 4th of July, 2016, so I'm hustling my bustle to get them read before the announcement.

A long-time immigrant from Uganda, Nnam wakes up to find her Ugandan immigrant husband dead in the bathroom. He's only 45 so it comes as a huge shock to Nnam, but her odyssey is only beginning. Her husband's body goes home to Uganda, she and their two sons in tow, and the nightmare
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Hannah
Jun 06, 2019 rated it liked it
I found this, sadly, highly uneven and fairly unimpressive. I adore short story collections but have fallen a bit out of the habit of reading them this year. This collection was not the best choice to try to get back into the groove of reading them. Now, these are not bad stories by any means but for the most part they did not quite work for me. Part of that is down to genre preference; I like my short stories either fabulist or hyper realistic and these were neither, combining endlessly bleak ...more
Charlott
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4,5 -Review will follow soon
Thebooktrail
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Visit the locations in the novel

Manchester Happened by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi – Weaving between Manchester and Kampala, this collection of short stories looks at what it means to truly belong. They re-imagine the journey of Ugandans who choose to make England their home. Then the second part looks at what happens when these people then return. Outsiders in their own country. Outsiders in the county they now know as home. So, where do they truly belong?

A collection of short stories taking
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Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I thought Kintu was fantastic, so was looking forward to this short story collection. Which, as it turned out, is good, but not quite as good as I was hoping. Though admittedly, I read it soon after three great collections, which set a high bar for short stories.

The first seven stories, just over half the book, follow Ugandan immigrants in Manchester, mostly in the present day, though one story is set in the 1950s. These stories, while interesting, are rather dreary, very much about social
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SueLucie
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
A collection of 12 short stories, divided into two sections - one half concentrating on Ugandans’ experiences in Britain, specifically Manchester, and the other on Ugandans returning to Uganda after some years away. Some characters feature several times, the main one being Poonah - a delightful creation with a subtle, wry take on life - and the stories involving her are my favourites.

The stories are political with a light, unchallenging touch, particularly so where the colonial British legacy in
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Barbara
Makumba earned her MA and her PhD in writing in England. She is a university lecturer and lives in Manchester. She has won several writing prizes, and reading this collection, her talent is indisputable. I learned about this book from Savidge Reads, and his high praise for it was well deserved. Then at the end of July I was fortunate to hear Makumbi and meet her at the John Hewitt Summer School in Armagh, Northern Ireland.

Manchester of the title is the city in England. The book is made up of 12
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Lorraine
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Manchester Happened" is a collection of short stories divided into 2 parts. 11 short stories. 305 pages. Part one is about living in Manchester and the 2nd part is about leaving Manchester, going back to Uganda.
The collection opens with a prologue titled "Christmas Is Coming" and the longing for normalcy in those first 28 pages is palpable. The regularity for a family life left behind. The children who learn to shield and protect their parents’ anger and disappointment at this new life in this
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Abiola
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great collection of short stories, touching on the subject of home and finding one's place through the lives of Ugandans in Britain.... I especially enjoyed the story that the book is named after. The last story was the longest but was hardest to make sense of. Excited to read more of this author's work!
Aisha
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing

It’s 2019. Technology keeps advancing by the second and yet a vast majority of people in other parts of the world still refer to Africa as though it’s a country or worse — “the dark continent”. Whether aware of or oblivious to this fact, Africans still seek migration outside the continent because “home has become the lion’s mouth”. In Manchester Happened, Jennifer Makumbi expatiates on the intricacies of the African migration.

Manchester Happened is a collection of 12 short stories divided into “
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Greg
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
* I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to review this book. *

This is a collection of short stories from Ugandan writer Jennifer Makumbi about the experiences of (mostly) women emigrating from Africa to live in Manchester, and the struggles that they encounter immersed in a foreign culture. The stories in the second half of the book deal with emigrants returning home to find that they no longer quite fit in Uganda either.

These stories reminded me very much of
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Muthoni Muiruri
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This anthology opens with the author giving us an analogy of being the poorest in your clan and having to rely on a rich uncle. This rich uncle will often times threaten to withdraw his support if you do act accordingly but since you need his help, you toe the line. You ask your rich uncle if you can move in with him because your prospects will be much better then, he agrees, but not before he chastises your father for being incompetent. Your rich cousins begin to get tired of you. They want you ...more
Rachel
I really enjoyed this collection of short stories. They take place in a variety of time periods including the 1950s, 1990s and post-Brexit. The stories address issues of belonging and/or not belonging to two places that are a part of the narrators identity. And yet neither England nor Uganda is presented completely as Home.

The narrators are often women and the stories address themes such as relationship woes, financial struggles, familial judgment, racism and xenophobia alongside community
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Muthoni Muiruri
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This anthology opens with the author giving us an analogy of being the poorest in your clan and having to rely on a rich uncle. This rich uncle will often times threaten to withdraw his support if you do act accordingly but since you need his help, you toe the line. You ask your rich uncle if you can move in with him because your prospects will be much better then, he agrees, but not before he chastises your father for being incompetent. Your rich cousins begin to get tired of you. They want you ...more
Tasnim (Reads.and.Reveries)
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Manchester Happened is a short story collection exploring the experiences of Ugandans who’ve journeyed to make a home for themselves in Britain, Manchester specifically. Whilst the first half of the collection tells the stories of characters who have moved to the UK, the second half looks at the experiences of characters who then return to Uganda after a period of time.

There are an increasing number of books exploring the complexities of immigration in ways that are culturally and
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Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits

This collection of short stories includes the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2014 winner, Let's Tell This Story Properly. I loved how all the tales overlap by way of their country settings, and also in other more subtle ways such as shared specific locations and characters. It reminded me of From An-Other Land by Tanushree Ghosh and helped to reinforce the idea of the Ugandan diaspora being connected. Having the British parts of the stories
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Princess
Difficult to put words to how it feels to recognize yourself on the page. Not an approximation of yourself, but yourself - your mannerisms, your blunt declarations, your colorful descriptions. To read this collection as a Ugandan immigrant is to grow self-conscious as you turn the pages - because, without warning, Jennifer will swoop in and lay you absolutely bare. And the strange and wonderful thing is that even as you confront yourself in this vulnerable state, you will feel not shame, but ...more
Amyn Bawa-allah
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jennifer Makumbi can never disappoint me. This is an ambitious and beautifully executed anthology. Tenacity at its finest.
A full review will be published on www.somethingbookish.com.ng soonest. I need to catch my breath first.
Lara Kareem
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read many collections of short stories which endings leave me feeling unsettled and bothered because of how abrupt the stories end but this isn’t the case with this book. All stories end perfectly and I found myself chuckling out loud in public spaces while reading this book, which is the best collections of short stories I have ever read since my primary school days.

I laugh in the face of people who think writing short stories is easier than writing a novel. And not just any kind of short
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Raksha Vasudevan
I loved this collection of short stories that centers on Ugandans abroad, Ugandans returning home, Ugandans somehow in the "in between." True to the collection's title, Makumbi does not simplify, explain or translate Uganda or Ugandans -- their choices, events, and attitudes just are. Clearly, she is writing for a Ugandan audience and/or for curious readers, who are willing to do some work to understand, or sit with being mystified. At the same time, Makumbi is such a masterful storyteller -- ...more
Andrea
Makumbi has created a series of interrelated stories that illuminate the experience of Ugandans living as immigrants or sojourners in Great Britain. Each story distills an aspect of the immigrant/exile experience, including stories of those who chose to stay in Britain and those who chose to return to Uganda. While the stories have interrelated themes and a couple of characters appear in more than one story, each is an example of the encapsulated form of the short story. These stories are "well ...more
Susan
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uganda
This is a book of short stories whose author previously published a novel that I read and enjoyed. The stories take place either in England (about the life of Ugandan immigrants) or Uganda (about those immigrants who return to visit or live.). Makumbi is a wonderful writer and this is well worth reading. I was actually reading it on the NYC subway and a young woman wandered over to discuss it, having just read something else by Makumbi.
Veronika
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't think any words can describe how much I enjoyed these stories. I just finished and I feel so overwhelmed. A 5-star rating is not enough. I am so in love with this collection!

'Manchester Happened' by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a collection of beautiful short stories, weaving between Kampala and Manchester. Makumbi conveys the reality of relocating to Britain, highlights the characters' unique struggles with identity and explores what it truly means to belong.
Marsha
I enjoyed the book. It was an interesting insight into the experience of Ugandan immigrants to the UK.
Samantha
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
First, let's just give love to this amazing cover! This book is divided into three sections: prologue, departing, and returning. The story contained in the prologue is one of my favourite and is told from a child's perspective and is filled with anxiety and anticipation. The second section, contains six stories of Ugandans in Manchester. The third section, returning, are stories about Ugandans returning from Manchester to Uganda.

These stories are vivid in description and character. She fully
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Charlotte
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Manchester Happened by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a very strong collection of stories broken into two parts: Departing (stories of coming to Manchester from Uganda) and Returning (stories of return to/visiting Uganda from Manchester). The writing was so engaging, easy, and sometimes humourous that it was often on reflection that I realized how truly heavy some of the topics were.
***
A young boy deals with anxiety over his alcoholic mother's drunken outbursts. A father tries to get his newborn
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L A
Jul 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Thanks to Oneworld and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

I'm not usually a huge reader of short stories but this sounded interesting. A collection of Own Voices short stories from the perspective of Ugandan migrants? Yup, sounds great. The glowing praise the author has received piqued my interest too.

The book is split roughly into two parts. The first tells the stories of multi-generational Ugandan migrants living in Britain and the second part tells the
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Afreen Aftab
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-story
I don't often get to read about other cultures especially people who have undergone such a specific experience in their lives. About those who have been or are immigrants. About Ugandans to whom Manchester Happened.

This is a collection of stories, the first half of which comprises of people immigrating to UK/Manchester and the second half of Ugandans moving back and how the experiences the characters have had has changed them and their relationships.

The stories are all so varied, so diverse and
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Andrea
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
'Manchester Happened' is a delightful collection of what are, essentially, loosely related short stories spanning generations, and the flow of immigration from Uganda to the UK and back again.The approach is similar to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah-except replacing Nigeria with Uganda and the US with the UK-but with an entirely different affect. Having judiciously selected which stories to tell, Makumbi covers an amazing breadth of historical and cultural ground with exquisite details ...more
Dincy
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
My intention, when I sat down to read this, was to work my way through a story or two a day, but I ended up reading it in a single sitting. This was a wonderful read. Memoirs of a Namaaso, in particular, will stay with me for a long time.
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Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, a Ugandan novelist and short story writer, has a PhD from Lancaster University.

Her first novel, Kintu, won the Kwani Manuscript Prize in 2013 and was longlisted for the Etisalat Prize in 2014. Her story "Let's Tell This Story Properly" won the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

She is currently working on her second novel and a collection of short stories, Travel is
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