Excerpt from We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

We Need New Names

A Novel

By NoViolet Bulawayo

We Need New Names

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Good, good, now say cheese, say cheese, cheese, cheeeeeeeese--the woman enthuses, and everyone says cheese. Myself I don't really say, because I am busy trying to remember what cheese means exactly, and I cannot remember. Yesterday Mother of Bones told us the story of Dudu the bird, who learned and sang a new song whose words she did not really know the meaning of and was caught, killed, and cooked for dinner because in the song she was actually begging people to kill and cook her.

The woman points at me, nods, and tells me to say cheeeeeese and I say it mostly because she is smiling like she knows me really well, like she even knows my mother. I say it slowly at first, and then I say, cheese and cheese, and I'm saying cheese cheeeeese and everyone is saying cheese cheese cheese and we are all singing the word and the camera is clicking and clicking and clicking. Then Stina, who is quiet most of the time, just starts and walks away. The woman stops taking pictures and says, Hey, where are you going? but he doesn't stop, doesn't even turn to look at her. Then Chipo walks away after Stina, then the rest of us follow them.

We leave the woman standing there, taking pictures as we go. Then Bastard stops at the corner of Victoria and starts shouting insults at the woman, and I remember the thing, and that she threw it away without even asking us if we wanted it, and I begin shouting also, and everyone else joins in. We shout and we shout and we shout; we want to eat the thing she was eating, we want to hear our voices soar, we want our hunger to go away. The woman just looks at us puzzled, like she has never heard anybody shout, and then quickly hurries back into the house but we shout after her, shout till we smell blood in our tickling throats.

Bastard says when we grow up we'll stop stealing guavas and move to bigger things inside the houses. I'm not really worried about that because when that time comes, I'll not even be here; I'll be living in America with Aunt Fostalina, eating real food and doing better things than stealing. But for now, the guavas. We decide on Robert Street, on a huge white house that looms like a mountain. The house has big windows and sparkling things all over, and a red swimming pool at the front, empty chairs all around it.

The good thing is that the house is set far back in the yard, and our guavas are right at the front, as if they heard we were coming and ran out to meet us. It doesn't take long to climb over the durawall, onto the tree, and fill our plastic bags. Today we are stealing bull guavas. These ones are big, like a man's angry fist, and do not really ripen to yellow like the regular guavas; they stay green on the outside, pink and fluffy on the inside, and taste so good I cannot even explain it.

***

Going back to Paradise, we do not run. We just walk nicely like Budapest is now our country too, like we build it even, eating guavas along the way and spitting the peels all over to make the place dirty.

Excerpted from We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo. Copyright © 2013 by NoViolet Bulawayo. Excerpted by permission of Reagan Arthur. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  A Discovery of African Literature

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Goldfinch
    The Goldfinch
    by Donna Tartt
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction.

    Her canvas is vast. To frame a story about art, love and ...
  • Book Jacket: Toms River
    Toms River
    by Dan Fagin
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction

    In Toms River, investigative journalist Dan Fagin ...
  • Book Jacket: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
    The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
    by Gabrielle Zevin
    I feel like Gabrielle Zevin wrote this wonderful book, about a lonely New England bookstore owner ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Who Said...

The longest journey of any person is the journey inward

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.