We Need New Names

We Need New Names

by NoViolet Bulawayo


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A remarkable literary debut—shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize! The unflinching and powerful story of a young girl's journey out of Zimbabwe and to America.
Darling is only ten years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. In Zimbabwe, Darling and her friends steal guavas, try to get the baby out of young Chipo's belly, and grasp at memories of Before. Before their homes were destroyed by paramilitary policemen, before the school closed, before the fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad.
But Darling has a chance to escape: she has an aunt in America. She travels to this new land in search of America's famous abundance only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously few. NoViolet Bulawayo's debut calls to mind the great storytellers of displacement and arrival who have come before her—from Junot Diaz to Zadie Smith to J.M. Coetzee—while she tells a vivid, raw story all her own.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316230841
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 05/20/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 203,461
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

NoViolet's story "Hitting Budapest," the opening chapter of the novel, won the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing. NoViolet's other work has been shortlisted for the 2009 SA PEN Studzinsi Award, and has appeared in Callaloo, The Boston Review, Newsweek, and The Warwick Review, as well as in anthologies in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the UK. NoViolet recently earned her MFA at Cornell University, where her work has been recognized with a Truman Capote Fellowship. She will be attending Stanford in the fall as a Wallace Stegner Fellow for 2012-2014. NoViolet was born and raised in Zimbabwe.

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We Need New Names: A Novel 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Sheila Trask for Readers' Favorite A sad and beautiful coming-of-age story of a child and her country, NoViolet Bulawayo’s novel, We Need New Names, takes us to Zimbabwe during the Mugabe era. Here, 10-year-old Darling copes with extreme poverty, hunger, and near-homelessness in her ironically-named shantytown, Paradise. We join the smart, observant Darling and her roving band of friends as they hunt for the best places to steal guavas and play frequent games of “find bin Laden.” Bulawayo’s knowledgeable and empathetic descriptions allow us to feel their hunger but also their friendships. Most of all, we see them becoming adults before their time, as in a wrenching scene where the friends try to figure out how to “get the baby out” of 11-year-old Chipo’s stomach.   Bulawayo looks unflinchingly at harsh economic, racial, family, and personal experiences in Zimbabwe, through Darling’s perceptive eyes. Later in the novel —- which reads more like a series of linked vignettes than an action-filled story -— Darling travels to America to escape the dire situation at home. However, Detroit, Michigan is hardly the answer to all of her problems. In fact, her new home brings new complications, which Bulawayo covers in chapters focused on technology, music, capitalism, violence, and pornography. These later sections feel a little forced, as though the author had a predetermined list of issues to address, though her observations are spot on. A girl who never had enough to eat is appropriately alarmed by an American culture that celebrates a combination of overeating and extreme dieting, for instance. Lyrical at times, no reader will forget Darling’s first experience of the Michigan snow that came silently to swallow everything up with its whiteness. We Need New Names is not a speedy read. Darling takes her time expressing herself, and there is no anticipation of crisis to create momentum. Readers will, however, appreciate Bulawayo’s unique voice, her cross-cultural comparisons, and the compassion with which she portrays one girl’s international journey toward womanhood.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent style of writing by NoViolet Bulawayo. The author's firm use of language to convey the emotion, describe the setting and navigate the reader through the plot is very refreshing. The reader gets introduced to the mindset of the characters through dialogue and the narrative in a manner that I find very fascinating. I end up getting a better idea of what life and politics in Zimbabwe is. It is a refreshing style of writing. I also saw it in Triple Agent, Double Cross. I also like the tone of the story, which suits the genre perfectly. A job well done.
StephWard More than 1 year ago
'We Need New Names' is a heartfelt and eye-opening literary fiction novel that tells the moving story of Darling, a young girl who finds her way out of her home village in Zimbabwe to the United States. We see her struggles and watch her overcome obstacles that we couldn't even imagine. She finally makes it to the United States to live with her aunt, only to find that the land of freedom and possibilities is incredibly limited to her because of her legal status as an immigrant. This story was masterfully told with such emotion and insight that it felt like I was right alongside Darling during her life in Zimbabwe throughout her journey to America and beyond. Darling is a fantastic and unusual main character for the novel - she's just a young girl who migrates to America from Africa. However, her preconceptions, hopes, determination, and beliefs are palpable to the reader to the point where my heart broke for her at times, while at others I was cheering her on. The writing was conversational being from Darling's point of view, but it also was insightful and intelligent. The pace was steady and flowed seamlessly, which made this a completely fascinating novel. There's so much more to the plot that Darling's life and journey to the United States - the reader realizes things they had never thought about before; things that may have never crossed their minds otherwise. It brings a wonderful sense of understanding and eye-opening realizations to the reader throughout the entire book. Highly recommended for fans of contemporary fiction and literary fiction! Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was quite good. NoViolet Bulawayo has a unique writing style that can really draw a reader in. Bulawayo has is skills at twisting past, and present, in colorful storytelling skills really does make her an author to keep one's eye on. The reason why I do not give it 5 stars is because there was some holes in the later chapters for me, nothing significant just felt a little rushed. However, I enjoyed the halt in the ending and look forward to reading more by Bulawayo. 
RebeccaScaglione More than 1 year ago
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo is a collection of short stories or essays in sequential order that make up a novel. The stories are gritty and honest, about an African girl named Darling, who is struggling with her culture and ready to go to America. I loved this novel. It kind of reminded me of my favorite collection of short stories, Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan, which contains stories of struggling African children in some questionable situations.   Plus, who can resist a book by an author whose name is NoViolet???   Read anything gritty lately?   Thanks for reading, Rebecca @ Love at First Book
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fictionreadercl More than 1 year ago
I was expecting something more interesting and intriguing. Sorry to say I didn't find it very good. I probably wouldn't read another book by that author.