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We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

An intriguing book of two halves and very many short chapters which tell little exemplary stories in the wider arc of the narrative, almost like episodes of a TV series. Darling is 10, Zimbabwe is bleak but children can always find games and fun. As Darling gets older life gets darker, till she’s whisked to live with an aunt in America and thrust into this whole new world discovers it isn’t quite what she fantasised about. Amazingly skilfully written as Bulawayo successfully develops Darling’s voice from child to adult, Zimbabwe to America this is a beautiful, lyrical novel from a serious new name in literature.

If you like NoViolet Bulawayo you might also like to read books by Jhumpa Lahiri, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Taiye Selasi.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

This is shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2013. It is the US National Book Award 5 Under 35. It is the winner of the Etisalat Prize 2014. 'To play the country-game, we have to choose a country. Everybody wants to be the USA and Britain and Canada and Australia and Switzerland and them. Nobody wants to be rags of countries like Congo, like Somalia, like Iraq, like Sudan, like Haiti and not even this one we live in - who wants to be a terrible place of hunger and things falling apart?' Darling and her friends live in a shanty called Paradise, which of course is no such thing. It isn't all bad, though. There's mischief and adventure, games of Find bin Laden, stealing guavas, singing Lady Gaga at the tops of their voices. They dream of the paradises of America, Dubai, Europe, where Madonna and Barack Obama and David Beckham live. For Darling, that dream will come true. But, like the thousands of people all over the world trying to forge new lives far from home, Darling finds this new paradise brings its own set of challenges - for her and also for those she's left behind.


Bulawayo's novel is not just a stunning piece of literary craftsmanship but also a novel that helps elucidate today's world -- Felicity Capon Daily Telegraph

The challenging rhythm and infectious language of NoViolet Bulawayo's emotionally articulate novel turns a familar tale of immigrant displacement into a heroic ballad. Bulawayo's courage and her literary scope shine out from this outstanding debut - Daily Mail

About the Author

NOVIOLET BULAWAYO was born in Tsholotsho a year after Zimbabwe's independence from British colonial rule. When she was eighteen, she moved to Kalamazoo, Michi-gan. In 2011 she won the Caine Prize for African Writing; in 2009 she was shortlisted for the South Africa PEN Studzinsi Award, judged by JM Coetzee. Her work has appeared in magazines and in anthologies in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the UK. She earned her MFA at Cornell University, where she was also awarded a Truman Capote Fellowship, and she is currently a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University in California. We Need New Names is her first novel. In 2013 it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

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Book Info

Publication date

27th February 2014


NoViolet Bulawayo

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Vintage an imprint of Vintage Publishing


304 pages


Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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