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Manchester Happened

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  324 ratings  ·  68 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 di
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 23rd 2019 by Oneworld Productions
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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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 g ...more
How do I put into words how this collection of stories made me feel? This book absolutely stole my heart and its now one of my all time favourite books. WOW.

In Jennifer Makumbi’s collection of stories, Manchester Happened we meet Ugandans who journey to England, specifically Manchester to make a life for themselves. The collection is separated into two sections, the first journeys with those who decided to leave and the second section takes us on a trip back with the characters who decided to
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 o
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
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4,5 -Review will follow soon
Samir Rawas Sarayji
I am so happy I read her novel Kintu before reading this bland, mediocre collection of stories. I say happy because I would never have read the novel otherwise. I would never have believed someone who writes droll stories like these would be capable of a masterful epic novel.

This is a collection that reeks of a writer from an MFA program, coupling that with expository African (in this case Ugandan) culture, in the hopes that this would be enough to merit attention. I admit to being the sucker to

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
Aisha (thatothernigeriangirl)

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 “
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 issue
Tasnim (Reads.and.Reveries)
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 demographicall
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
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
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
" 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 new city,
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 conne
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 soonest. I need to catch my breath first.
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!
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
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 Juno
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
Obiageriaku Onugha
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I can't believe I'm just reading this. Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi has an interesting way with words. You feel, hear and smell every word. This book was a sensory delight and I can't wait to read more from her
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
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I definitely enjoyed all the stories because I craved for more. Immediately after turning the last page, I missed the flawless style of the elegant writing and I flipped back to read some of the stories again.
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 t
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 pri ...more
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Phenomenal. Schadenfreudal. Moving

Best thing I've read in a while. This would be on my Bibliotherapy shelves for as long as forever!

Coded Reader
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A collection of 12 stories revolving around immigrants from Uganda to Manchester,a beautiful and interesting write up told with empathy, humor and compassion.
Bolu Akindele
Apr 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
“When I arrived at Nnalongo’s, I asked, ‘Katassi, what happened to you? Why are you like this?’
She said, ‘Manchester, babe, Manchester Happened.”

I had picked up this book immediately I finished her epic debut novel, Kintu, expecting a similar storyline, characters, complexity, albeit from the angle of Immigration. But this book crumbled under the weight of all of that expectation, and I don't mean that it is a bad book.

It’s not trying to be a sequel to Kintu, the author not trying to replicate
Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
This collection of short stories has the richness of a novel. Whereas some short story writers pare away detail, Jennifer Makumbi builds hers up from the particulars. These are not lean tales that move swiftly to a surprise revelation; instead they are a patient unpacking.

The twelve stories are set in various times from the 1950s to the very near-present and follow a multi-generational cast of characters who are moving between Manchester and Uganda. This expansive cast of characters, some who r
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 -- he ...more
Abena Karikari
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing

I have been on a journey with this book and it has come to a triumphant end. Wow and wow again. Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a writer in a league of her own!
The characters, the language, the setting, the stories, all impeccably and flawlessly woven together to create this beautiful, delightful literary masterpiece.
Each story shares an aspect of the diverse experiences that immigrants face , oscillating between from the perspective of Ugandans living in Manchester and/or moving to Kampala. The
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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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