- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (27 Feb. 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099581884
- ISBN-13: 978-0099581888
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 33,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
We Need New Names Paperback – 27 Feb 2014
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"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)
Ten-year-old Darling has a choice: it’s down, or outSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is so well written. I do not know much about Southern Africa and the immigrant experience but this given me a deeper understanding. Please buy and readPublished 1 day ago by Ade Ronke
This is an extraordinarily beautiful book. The writing is outstanding and describes so wonderfully the place we call home, what it's like to live in a foreign land. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Sandy Sharp
On a regular day I would not have gotten past the first chapter... it just really isn't my cup of tea, but I had to know why it was so highly rated? Read morePublished 3 months ago by Flo
While this was an accurate picture of the writers experience and gives a vivid impression of the situation in Zim ...... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Suchea
This novel is the latest addition to the genre I think of as 'immigrant experience' books; novels which cover a character's life in their country of origin - usually somewhere in... Read morePublished 8 months ago by BookWorm
I wrote my dissertation on this novel. It is absolutely beautiful. Bulawayo completely captures the innocence of a child and the American dream all the way in the slums of... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Shannon L