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We Need New Names

We Need New Names [Kindle Edition]

NoViolet Bulawayo
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)

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An Award-Nominated Book
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Product Description


"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)

"Darling is 10 when we first meet her, and the voice Ms. Bulawayo has fashioned for her is utterly distinctive - by turns unsparing and lyrical, unsentimental and poetic, spiky and meditative... stunning novel... remarkably talented author" (Michiko Kakutani New York Times)

"Often heartbreaking, but also pulsing with colour and energy" (Kate Saunders The Times (Saturday Review))

"Extraordinary" (Gaby Wood Daily Telegraph)

"Creates a fictional world that is immediate, fresh, and identifies the arrival of a talented writer" (Francesca Angelini Sunday Times (Culture))

"NoViolet Bulawayo uses words potently, blending brutality and lyricism in her unflinching, bittersweet story of displacement" (Anita Sethi Observer)

"A really talented and ambitious author" (Helon Habila Guardian)

"A debut that blends wit and pain... heartrending... wonderfully original" (Margaret Busby Independent)

"We Need New Names is full of life -- you can almost feel the sun on your arms and hear the birds in the trees -- and Bulawayo is certainly one to watch" (Stylist)

"A powerful new African voice" (Pride Magazine)

"Bulawayo's use of contemporary well as her fearless defense of the immigrant experience through honoring the cadence of spoken language, sets this book apart---on the top shelf" (Oprah magazine)

"A brilliantly poignant tale of what it is to be an outsider in a strange land" (Glamour)

"Written in sharp, snappy prose, this is a raw and thought-provoking debut" (Easy Living)

"Enthralling... a provocative, hauting debut from an author to watch" (Elle (US))

Book Description

Ten-year-old Darling has a choice: it's down, or out

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1283 KB
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (6 Jun 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CA88IE0
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,739 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More 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, Michi­gan.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An African voice 20 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
There is deep pain in this novel yet it races along with a vibrant, joyful energy. The prose has African rhythms. There is detailed observation of people and NoViolet understands what makes them tick but she doesn't always like what they do. She gets great pleasure from her childhood friends and loves them for who they are even when they behave in ways she does not agree with. The duality of the hurt they all suffer in their country with the deep love for the way of life and culture is at the heart of the novel. In her deprived Zimbabwe life, she longs for America and stability. Yet in the second part of the book when she has that safety, she suffers even more pain and feelings of disjuncture. Her African perspective shows up the western life as being much more deprived, despite the material wealth.
The book is also a coming of age novel so some of her feelings of disillusion may be a product of coming to adulthood and having to give up on the dreams of childhood. It is also a novel about identity of a girl/woman and a country. NoViolet feels her identity is fractured by the regime in her homeland, the violence and abuse. Her family is broken by what happens to her father. Then in America she has lost her roots, traditions and her soul and she cannot return. Africa has a raw energy in he novel. It is untamed and connected to ancient ways of being. Mother of Bones does not need anything the NGOs bring. She keeps her dignity and values and history. She has a deep knowledge and a holistic view of life which her own government cannot destroy. The novel does not explain the politics, it plays out the impact on ordinary lives. That way, the writer gives us a deep feel for a way of life, a concern for what has gone on in that regime and a critique of western life. In her colourful and lyrical prose she also gives us hope for the better future that human beings can create.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leaving in droves... 9 Dec 2013
I admit to being somewhat conflicted about my view of this book. Worthy of its shortlisting for the 2013 Booker, I agree, but I'm also rather glad it didn't win. Let me start by getting my criticisms out of the way and then I'll try to explain why I think it's very much worth reading nonetheless.

This is the story of Darling, a young girl living in a shanty town in Zimbabwe. When we first meet her, she is ten and spends most of her time with her little group of friends. Through them, we get a child's-eye view of the devastation that has been wrought on the country during the Mugabe period. At the half-way point, Darling is sent to America to live with her aunt in Michigan, and the second half is taken up with seeing the immigrant experience as Darling learns about this society that is so different from anything she has known.

The problem I have is that it feels a little as if Bulawayo has started by writing down a list of all the bad things we associate with Zimbabwe and then a similar list of all the downsides of the US. The book is episodic with each chapter being a little story on its own, and each story has a 'point'. So we get the chapter on Aids, one on female genital mutilation, then incest and rape, white people being run off their properties, the rigging of elections and the violence that goes along with that, and so on. In America, we get out of control kids, school shootings, porn, obsession with looks and weight, celebrity culture etc. It's a bleak picture of both countries with the over-riding feeling being that the grass isn't as much greener for immigrants as they expected it to be.
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59 of 64 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hmmm 18 Jun 2013
By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
We Need New Names is a debut novel and I want to be generous. However, the novel, although only short, seems to drag and become quite repetitive.

Initially set in Zimbabwe in the late 2000s, we meet Darling, a 10 year old girl, and her friends as they run amok in a poor township. The various and well documented issues facing Zimbabwe were paraded forth: food shortages, rigged elections, hyperinflation, poor medical facilities, AIDS, reliance on NGOs, seizure of white farms... Each issue is neatly packaged into a self-contained chapter and it felt somewhat contrived. Added to this, there was little real depth of characterisation, and little development. There was a high point in the hedge priest, a rather ridiculous man called Prophet Revelations Bitchington Mborro imposing his religious zealotry on a rather bemused population. And there are smiles as the children get up to various hi-jinx, including scrumping guavas. There is a genuinely distressing chapter featuring an improvised abortion, and there are thought provoking moments as we realise that some of the children came from middle class backgrounds and once had aspirations of education and achievement. Zimbabwe, like some other failed states, was not always poor.

Half way through, the novel switches to the US. This section of the novel doesn't work as well. There are some interesting thoughts about displacement and homesickness; the observation that once you leave your homeland you can never really return because the land you leave will change. However, there's a bit too much madness and it all becomes rather confusing. There are some parallels and some contrasts made between life in the US and life in Zimbabwe, but the lack of a real narrative drive means the reader's interest may well wander.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read!
A moving and beautifully crafted novel about the transition from life in the Zimbabwean bush to urban America, seen through the eyes of young people. Highly recommended.
Published 1 month ago by Diana
4.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking experience
The writing is sharp and the characters economically yet clearly drawn, the subject matter familiar yet handled freshly and thought-provokingly. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars what a great read!
Very well-expressed comments on Zim through a child's eyes. A great story full of insight - not all of which is happy.
Published 1 month ago by T Ford
3.0 out of 5 stars It wasn’t a bad book, it was just a bit…meh
I don’t really know what to say about this book. I’ve been putting off writing my review, and now I’m even more clueless.

It wasn’t a bad book, it was just a bit…meh. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lucybird
3.0 out of 5 stars NO ANSWERS
This is a book which is pretty much all dark with no light - except for the amazing descriptions of the children's games. Read more
Published 2 months ago by A Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars I dont get it
I almost always finish books, even when I am not enjoying them a great deal. This book defeated me, not because it was hard to read but because it gave me no pleasure at all. Read more
Published 2 months ago by absolutebookworm
4.0 out of 5 stars Two Types of Slum
Darling’s dad went to university and her family used to live in a ‘proper’ house, but it was bulldozed, and Darling now lives in a tin-shack slum called Paradise, and doesn’t have... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Bob Ventos
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Something rather different and eye openeing
Published 3 months ago by Mrs. M. M. Carly
3.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this book
I enjoyed this book, the exuberant tone of the Zimbabwe section, the sense of community in hardship, even the obsession with guavas, my favourite fruit. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ian Hassall
3.0 out of 5 stars A Book of Two Halves
I will not repeat the storyline as many reviewers have done this already. Like others I found the first half, Darling's childhood in Zimbabwe much more compelling - big political... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Stuart Sussex Scribe
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