BookBrowse Reviews We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

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We Need New Names

A Novel

By NoViolet Bulawayo

We Need New Names
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  • Hardcover: May 2013,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: 20 May 2014,
    320 pages.

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Spanning both Zimbabwe and the United States, NoViolet Bulawayo's debut novel explores displacement and arrival through the eyes of 10-year old Darling as she searches for a place she can call home.

Like the main character of her debut novel, We Need New Names, NoViolet Bulawayo is brave, scrappy, and not likely to back away from a fight. In these linked stories, she tackles - among other issues - poverty, political oppression, corruption, violence, women's rights, the class systems of Zimbabwe and the United States, and the problems of alienation at home and in a foreign land. The novel begins in Zimbabwe in 2008, during the months surrounding the country's failed elections and post-election violence. In less skillful hands, such a thematically dense work could easily come across as self-pitying or mired down in the bogs of the "African tragedy." Bulawayo confronts these challenges by giving us Darling, a no-nonsense ten-year-old narrator who stomps through life with a heart-wrenching, naked innocence.

It is easy to see why the first story, "Hitting Budapest," won the...

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