“Manchester Happened” by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

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 stories of those who have made the return to Uganda.

There are some tough issues explored here including domestic abuse, alcoholism, racism, sexual abuse and the lingering impacts of colonialism.

As with all short story collections, some are better than others. I enjoyed the first few stories in particular, but I started to lose interest as I progressed through the book. In particular, the story about the dogs left me completely bamboozled.

There were some really interesting character perspectives but looking at the collection as a whole, it all felt a bit disjointed. Although the stories were distinct, I feel like a short story collection should still feel coherent. This book was absolutely fine (except the dog story) but nothing hugely exciting.

The author is clearly very talented, and I enjoyed her writing style. I think I might prefer to read a novel of hers rather than short stories so I will keep an eye out for any work she produces in future.

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