Mubanga Kalimamukwento Debuts Cover for Her Prize-winning Story Collection

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Winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize for 2024, Mubanga Kalimamukwento’s short story collection, Obligations to the Wounded, explores womanhood in contemporary Zambia and was selected by Angie Cruz, author of How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water, to win the prize.

Of the collection, Cruz stated;

“These thematically linked stories deliver an intricate study of Zambian women living in both Zambia and abroad who are weighing their options of who to love, where to live, where to work. The author, with a poet’s restraint, has written stories that deftly negotiate the challenges and tribulations women face when they feel the pressure and duty to yield to the will of family, community, customs, country, and spiritual beliefs. Obligations to the Wounded graceful, touching and generous collection.”

It goes without saying that such a fascinating and well-written piece deserves an equally stunning cover and that is what the designer, Alex Wolfe, achieved. 

Mubanga sat down for a brief Q&A with Debutiful magazine and when asked how the cover works to convey what the contents of the stories are, she had this to say;

“The consistent aspect of all the stories in this collection is that there is always a strong feminine voice who is stepping out of her expected role, carving a path of her own. Visually, this is represented in the narrowness of the path on which the girl is walking. We can’t see her face either, so she can embody any of the voices in the collection or all of them. We don’t know where she is going, like some of the characters, or maybe she doesn’t know either, also like other characters in the collection, and because her face is hidden, her age is somewhat ambiguous. Each time I look at it, I see something new––for example, the arch of the title frames her almost completely, but not quite, she is mid-stride, which is similar to how a lot of the protagonists in the collection have one foot in one place and the other elsewhere. The kaleidoscope of voices are so well represented in the fabric of her dress as well as the purple inswa across the page.”

The twelve-story collection, narrated by different Zambian women, will be released by the University of Pittsburgh Press on October 8, 2024. It is available to pre-order now.

Congratulations to Mubanga Kalimamukwento!

Bongiwe T. Maphosa

Bongiwe T. Maphosa

Bongiwe Maphosa is a budding author with a passion for storytelling. With her thought-provoking narratives, she takes her readers on a literary adventure. Bongiwe's works on the human condition from a fresh perspective have earned her recognition and publications in the Avbob Poetry Anthology of 2019, The Writer's Club of South Africa 2021, and JAY Lit in 2021. She hopes to cement her place in the literary community.