Spring Books Preview
Let’s Tell This Story Properly
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
If you go inside Nnam’s house right now the smell of paint will choke you but she enjoys it. She enjoys it the way her mother loved the smell of the outside toilet, a pit latrine, when she was pregnant. Her mother would sit a little distance away from the toilet doing her chores, or eating, and disgusting everyone until the baby was born. But Nnam is not pregnant.
Two years after the publication of Kintu, her epic reimagining of the history of Uganda through the cursed bloodline of the Kintu clan, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi returns with her first collection of stories.
Centered around the lives of Ugandans in Britain, Let’s Tell This Story Properly features characters who are both hyper-visible and unseen―they take on jobs at airport security, care for the elderly, and work in hospitals, while remaining excluded from white, British life. As they try to find their place, they drift from a home that feels further and further away.
Let’s Tell This Story Properly is available April 30, but you can read the title story, which won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2014, over at Granta.
The Dinner Guest
Translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer
The story goes that in my family there’s an extra dinner guest at every meal. He’s invisible, but always there. He has a plate, glass, knife and fork. Every so often he appears, casts his shadow over the table, and erases one of those present.
The first to vanish was my grandfather.
In 1977, three terrorists kidnapped Gabriela Ybarra’s grandfather from his home. This was the last time his family saw him alive. His kidnapping played out in the press, and resulted in his murder. Ybarra first heard the story when she was eight, but it was only after her mother’s death, years later, that she felt the need to go deeper and discover more about her family’s past.
The Dinner Guest is a novel with the feel of documentary nonfiction, and was longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker International Prize. It connects two life-changing events—the very public death of Ybarra’s grandfather, and the more private pain as her mother dies from cancer and Gabriela cares for her. Devastating and luminous, the book is an investigation, marking the arrival of a talented new voice in international fiction. You can find it in bookstores on May 28.
Translated from the Polish by Jennifer Croft
I can’t tell him I actually don’t know any movies, I grew up in the fields, I spent half my childhood with the animals in the cowshed, in the attic and the pigsty, that I haven’t seen TV in years because our old Rubin has long since been consigned to rest and recuperation in the dining room on the sunken floor next to the wall unit.
Okay, technically not spring, but this one is too good to pass up. By the author of Man Booker International-nominated Swallowing Mercury (and translated by Man Booker International-winner Jennifer Croft), Accommodations follows Wiola after she leaves her childhood village, a close-knit agricultural community in Poland where the Catholic calendar and local gossip punctuate daily life. Her new independence in the nearby city of Czestochowa is far from a fresh start, as she moves between a hostel and a convent brimming with secrets, taking in the stories of those around her.
Accommodations is a beautiful and frenetic coming-of-age tale by a brilliant poet whose unparalleled linguistic resources enrich and enliven the page. If you haven’t read Greg’s Swallowing Mercury—now’s your chance. Regardless, this book about finding one’s place in the world—accommodating and being accommodated by new people and places and things—will be a treat.—Jennifer Croft
Look for Accommodations in stores on July 9—or subscribe today to receive these three spring releases and more.