NoViolet Mhka Bulawayo is the pen name of Elizabeth Zandile Tshele
Bulawayo was born in 1981 and raised in the Tsholotsho District, Zimbabwe. She attended Njube High School and later Mzilikazi High School for her A levels.
Bulawayo completed her college education in the US, studying at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and earning bachelor's and master's degrees in English from Texas A&M University-Commerce and Southern Methodist University respectively. In 2010, NoViolet earned her MFA at Cornell University where she was a recipient of the Truman Capote Fellowship, and most recently, a lecturer of English. She is now a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.
In 2011 Bulawayo won the Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story Hitting Budapest about a gang of street children in a Zimbabwean shantytown. Her novel entitled We Need New Names was released in 2013, and was named on the Man Booker Prize 2013 longlist.
About This Biography
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Shortly after winning the 2009 PEN/Studzinski Literary Award, NoViolet Mhka Bulawayo talks with Mazwi, a Zimbabwean Journal, about her writing.
Do you have a writing community, ie, other Zimbabwean or African writers you interact with or you find the place isolating and if so is this isolation good or bad?
I'm in an MFA program so yes, I have a writing community. I have no interaction with Zimbabwean and African writers on a workshop level, so on that basis, I am "isolated." It's a double-edged swordIn the past I would crave that specific common ground that would come with interacting with writers from my own background, and that happened when I felt like my mates didn't "get" what I was trying to do. I'm over that now, not having that common ground means I have to forge a new one, and for me that is humanity. It means I have to stand on another level, to go beyond "Zimbabwean-ness" and "African-ness" in my writing, that space without the "burdens" of identity. Actually I've come to appreciate it as liberating, so I guess I can confidently say, it's good, very good, even though it took me a while to get here.
What is your inspiration and does that influence what you write about? Any ...
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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