Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
Oneworld, £14.99, pp320
A surprise winner of the Windham Campbell prize for fiction last year, Makumbi’s collection of short stories reveals a thoughtful writer who quietly, engagingly, pierces the reality of relocating to Britain. Makumbi made the same journey from Uganda to Manchester that so many of her characters struggle with in this collection, which spans work from 2012 to the present day. Yet it never feels repetitive. Rather, Manchester Happened explores the emotional nuance of the immigrant experience, particularly so in the Commonwealth short story prize-winning Let’s Tell This Story Properly. An apt title: Makumbi definitely does.
Faber, £10, pp240
Akwaeke Emezi is the first gender-fluid writer to be longlisted for the Women’s prize, and, via the mythic coming-of-age story of Ada, Freshwater certainly channels this remarkable Nigerian author’s interests in identity. A student inhabited by male and female spirits which become different parts of her psyche, Ada starts the book as a “she” and ends up a “they”, navigating rape, self-harm, alcohol and eating disorders on the journey to some kind of peace. Emezi has said Freshwater is a “breath away from being a memoir” but the real achievement is that it works as a strange, phantasmagoric fairytale that asks us to think deeply about who we are.
Zonal Marking: The Making of Modern European Football
HarperCollins, £16.99, pp448
As Michael Cox suggests in this intricate study of football tactics, Manchester City’s success and the European dominance of English clubs this season didn’t come from nowhere. They came from Johan Cruyff and Louis Van Gaal’s Dutch mastery in the 1990s; Spain’s tiki-taka triumphs from 2008-2012; and, more recently, the rapid pressing game of the Germans. accessible writing masking some diligent research; this is a fascinating assessment of football in 2019.
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