NoViolet Bulawayo: We Need New Names


The latest addition to my website is NoViolet Bulawayo‘s We Need New Names. Narrated by a ten-year old girl, Darling, in Zimbabwe, this novel recounts, on the one hand, the grim situation in Zimbabwe as as seen by Darling, and how people, particularly the children survived, and, on the other hand, the cultural differences that emerge when Darling goes and lives with her aunt in Michigan. The children play games, often grim ones, such as Find Bin Laden but also doctors and nurses planning to perform an actual abortion on one of their number who is pregnant at the age of eleven. But they also forage for food, stealing where they can. They see a woman who has hanged herself, police brutally destroying a shanty town and a white couple beaten up by black militants. Despite this, while appreciating the material benefits of the US, Darling misses home, even with its problem. The book was nominated to the Man Booker short list.

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