We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
We Need New Names is a clever, funny, wistful novel. Darling lives in a squatter camp in Bulawayo. With the penetrating intelligence of a smart child she tells us about her world: the friends she plays with – Bastard, Chipo, Godknows, and Sbho; the adults hoping for ‘real change’; the shame she feels when her father returns home from the mines of South Africa with AIDS; the extortionist prophets who prey on people’s fears…
Pain is implicit in this landscape, but so too is play, and the children invent games that provide them with release, and even happiness, from the stress of poverty and politics.But when Darling is taken to America, the land of dreams, it seems alien, a place where priorities are seemingly turned inside out. In Bulawayo people are always hungry, but her aunt in Detroit is always on a diet; at home she always had friends to play with, in the US, her cousin sits alone in his room playing computer games.
With a feisty yet lyrical voice, NoViolet Bulawayo weighs our values as we reflect on the future of those children who are too often the hopeful victims of economic, social and political conflict and exile.
A ‘stunning novel’, Michiko Kakutani, New York Times.
The narrative is witty, intricately constructed, deeply informed, elegantly written.
Tinashe Mushakavanhu, The Standard.