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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The Steady Running of the Hour
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