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We Need New Names
Cover of We Need New Names
We Need New Names
A Novel
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A remarkable literary debut — shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize! The unflinching and powerful story of a young girl's journey out of Zimbabwe and to America.Darling is only ten years old, and...
A remarkable literary debut — shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize! The unflinching and powerful story of a young girl's journey out of Zimbabwe and to America.Darling is only ten years old, and...
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Description-

  • A remarkable literary debut — shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize! The unflinching and powerful story of a young girl's journey out of Zimbabwe and to America.
    Darling is only ten years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. In Zimbabwe, Darling and her friends steal guavas, try to get the baby out of young Chipo's belly, and grasp at memories of Before. Before their homes were destroyed by paramilitary policemen, before the school closed, before the fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad.

    But Darling has a chance to escape: she has an aunt in America. She travels to this new land in search of America's famous abundance only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously few. NoViolet Bulawayo's debut calls to mind the great storytellers of displacement and arrival who have come before her-from Junot Diaz to Zadie Smith to J.M. Coetzee-while she tells a vivid, raw story all her own.

 

Awards-

About the Author-

  • NoViolet's story "Hitting Budapest," the opening chapter of the novel, won the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing. NoViolet's other work has been shortlisted for the 2009 SA PEN Studzinsi Award, and has appeared in Callaloo, The Boston Review, Newsweek, and The Warwick Review, as well as in anthologies in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the UK. NoViolet recently earned her MFA at Cornell University, where her work has been recognized with a Truman Capote Fellowship. She will be attending Stanford in the fall as a Wallace Stegner Fellow for 2012-2014. NoViolet was born and raised in Zimbabwe.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 8, 2013
    The short story that was adapted to become the first chapter of this debut novel by current Stegner fellow Bulawayo won the Caine Prize in 2011, known as the African Booker. Indeed the first half of the book, which follows a group of destitute but fearless children in a ravaged, never-named African country, is a remarkable piece of literature. Ten-year-old Darling is Virgil, leading us through Paradise, the shantytown where she and her friends Bastard, Godknows, Sbho, and Stina live and play. “Before,” they lived in real houses and went to school—that is, before the paramilitary policemen came and destroyed it all, before AIDS, before Darling’s friend Chipo was impregnated by her own grandfather. Now they roam rich neighborhoods, stealing bull guavas and hiding in trees while gangs raid white homes. Darling and her friends invent new names for themselves from American TV and spent their time trying to get “rid of Chipo’s stomach.” Abruptly, Darling lands with her aunt in America, seen as an ugly place, and absorbs the worst of its culture—Internet porn, obscene consumerism, the depreciation of education. Darling may not be worse off, but her life has not improved in any meaningful way. When Bulawayo won the Caine Prize, she said, “I want to go and write from home. It’s a place which inspires me. I don’t feel inspired by America at all,” and the chapters set outside of Africa make this abundantly clear. In this promising novel’s early chapters, Bulawayo’s use of English is disarmingly fresh, her arrangement of words startling. Agent: Jin Auh, the Wylie Agency.

  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2013
    A loosely concatenated novel in which Darling, the main character and narrator of the story, moves from her traditional life in Zimbabwe to a much less traditional one in the States. For Darling, life in Zimbabwe is both difficult and distressing. Her wonderfully named friends include Chipo, Bastard, Godknows and Sbho, and she also has a maternal figured called Mother of Bones. The most pathetic of Darling's friends is Chipo, who's been impregnated by her own grandfather and who undergoes a brutal abortion. The friends have little to do but go on adventures that involve stealing guavas in more affluent neighborhoods than the one they come from (disjunctively named "Paradise"), an act that carries its own punishment since the constipation they experience afterward is almost unbearable. Violence and tragedy become a casual and expected part of their lives. In one harrowing scene, their "gang" attacks a white-owned farm and both humiliates and brutalizes the owners. Also, after a long period of absence and neglect, Darling's father returns, suffering from AIDS. Spiritual sustenance is rare and comes in the form of an evangelist with the unlikely but ripe name of Prophet Revelations Bitchington Mborro. Eventually, and rather abruptly, Darling moves from the heat and dirt of Zimbabwe to live with her Aunt Fostalina and Uncle Kojo in the American Midwest, a place that seems so unlike her vision of America that it feels unreal. In America, Darling must put up with teasing that verges on abuse and is eager to return to Zimbabwe, for her aunt is working two jobs to pay for a house in one of the very suburbs that Darling and her friends used to invade. Bulawayo crafts a moving and open-eyed coming-of-age story.

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    December 1, 2012

    The publisher's big spring debut--after its big fall debut, Kevin Powers's The Yellow Birds, a National Book Award winner, so pay attention--vivifies ten-year-old Darling's journey from Zimbabwe to America. Surviving by stealing guavas with her friends and recalling Before, when their fathers hadn't left for jobs abroad after the paramilitary police destroyed their homes, Darling grasps at a chance to go live in America with an aunt. It's not the promised land she had hoped. Caine Literary Prize winner Bulawayo's book is being snatched up worldwide.

    Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    May 15, 2013
    In Bulawayo's engaging and often disturbing semiautobiographical first novel, 10-year-old Darling describes, with childlike candor and a penetrating grasp of language, first, her life in Zimbabwe during its so-called Lost Decade and then her life as a teenager in present-day America. What is at once delightful and disturbing is the fact that young Darling and her friends are so resilient amidst chaos. Darling must cope with absentee parents gone to who-knows-where, seeking jobs and a better life; abusive adults; and murdering bands of self-appointed police in a country gone horribly wrong. Yet she evinces a sense of chauvinism regarding her corrupt homeland when she joins her aunt in America. There she discovers a country that has fallen into a different kind of chaos, primarily economic. She and her new family struggle while America fails to live up to her hopes. Ultimately what lingers is Bulawayo's poignant insights into how a person decides what to embrace and what to surrender when adapting to a new culture in a new land.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

  • Winner of the 2014 PEN / Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction


    Winner of the 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction

    Shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize

    Winner of the 2013 Etisalat Prize for...
    Winner of the 2014 PEN / Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction


    Winner of the 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction

    Shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize

    Winner of the 2013 Etisalat Prize for Literature

    Finalist for the 2013 Guardian First Book Award

    One of the New York Times Notable Books of the Year for 2013

    One of National Public Radio's Great Reads of 2013
  • - Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times A deeply felt and fiercely written debut novel ... The voice Ms. Bulawayo has fashioned for [Darling] is utterly distinctive - by turns unsparing and lyrical, unsentimental and poetic, spiky and meditative.
  • Uzodinma Iweala, The New York Times Book Review Bulawayo describes all this in brilliant language, alive and confident, often funny, strong in its ability to make Darling's African life immediate ... She demonstrates a striking ability to capture the uneasiness that accompanies a newcomers arrival in America.
  • Entertainment Weekly Bulawayo, whose prose is warm and clear and unfussy, maintains Darling's singular voice throughout, even as her heroine struggles to find her footing. Her hard, funny first novel is a triumph.
  • National Public Radio Nearly as incisive about the American immigrant experience as it is about the failings of Mugabe's regime [in Zimbabwe].
  • -People Magazine Bulawayo's first novel is original, witty and devastating.
  • -Judy Wertheimer, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Ms. Bulawayo's artistry is such that we can't help but see ourselves in that wider world ... Darling is a dazzling life force with a rich, inventive language all her own, funny and perceptive but still very much a child ... It would be hard to overstate the freshness of Ms. Bulawayo's language, with words put together in utterly surprising ways that communicate precisely.
  • The New York Daily News Writing with poignant clarity and hard-hitting imagery, Bulawayo delivers this first work as an offering of hope.
  • Leyla Sanai, The Independent How does a writer tell the story of a traumatised nation without being unremittingly bleak? NoViolet Bulawayo manages it by forming a cast of characters so delightful and joyous that the reader is seduced by their antics at the same time as finding out about the country's troubles.
  • Korina Lopez, USA Today Bulawayo has written a powerful novel. Her gift as a visual storyteller should propel her to a bright future — a dream fulfilled, no matter the country
  • -Peter Godwin, betselling author of The Fear and When a Crocodile Eats the Sun NoViolet Bulawayo is a powerful, authentic, nihilistic voice - feral, feisty, funny - from the new Zimbabwean generation that has inherited Robert Mugabe's dystopia.
  • -Aminatta Forna, author of The Memory of Love and Ancestor Stones NoViolet Bulawayo has created a world that lives and breathes - and fights, kicks, screams, and scratches, too. She has clothed it in words and given it a voice at once dissonant and melodic, utterly distinct.
  • -Edwidge Danticat, award-winning author of Brother, I'm Dying and Breath, Eyes, Memory An exquisite and powerful first novel, filled with an equal measure of beauty and horror and laughter and pain. The lives (and names) of these characters will linger in your mind, and heart, long after you're done reading the book. NoViolet Bulawayo is definitely a writer to watch.
  • Kristy Davis, Oprah.com Fans of Junot Díaz, who, as fiction editor of Boston Review, published NoViolet Bulawayo's early work, will love her debut novel, We Need New Names ...Bulawayo's use of contemporary culture (the kids play a game in which they hunt for bin Laden and, later, text like their lives depend on it), as well as her fearless defense of the immigrant experience through honoring the cadence of spoken language, sets this book apart-on the top shelf.
  • One of National Public Radio's Great Reads of 2013 One of National Public Radio's Great Reads of 2013
  • One of the New York Times Notable Books of the Year for 2013 One of the New York Times Notable Books of the Year for 2013
  • Finalist for the 2013 Guardian First Book Award Finalist for the 2013 Guardian First Book Award

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