We Need New Names
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 soldiers, 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.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
In We Need New Names, Bulawayo, a Zimbabwean writer who now lives and works in the UK, has written a poignant and lyrical depiction of the loss and tragic indeterminacy of the African immigrant experience. “This is an anguished, angry, hilarious novel that uses language like a weapon. Many of the words in the book are barbed with the irony of their own degradation, and in her vigorous, musical sentences, Bulawayo swings them at the sacred pieties of how a proper state of the nation novel should look and sound” – John Freeman, Toronto Star, July 26, 2013