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We Need New Names: A Novel (NoViolet Bulawayo) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 305 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
- An enlightening debut that takes the reader to Zimbabwe during the Mugabe regime. The subject matter is a bit grim as the novel opens with Darling and her friends leaving their shanty town to roam the finer neighborhoods in search of guava for food.
- We learn of the daily routines of the displaced civilians: the adults who neglect children in search for work in the mines and the borders; the games the children play to fight boredom and make sense of the dire futures.
- The author covers the political unrest and promise for "change" in the upcoming election; the hope, misogyny, and hypocrisy of religious doctrine; the social ills and financial ruin that befall a country under a corrupt dictatorship.
- The later half of the story explores the cultural nuances, language challenges, assimilation challenges as Darling relocates to America to stay with an aunt. The environmental differenced, culture shock, and disillusionment with an impoverished Detroit, Michigan.
- Homesickness plagues both aunt and niece, and the realities of their one-way journey weighs heavily on the hearts and guilt burdens their sub-conscious; but the determination to make it in the US is the driving force toward success, so they work very hard and long for permanent, legal residency.
- The author gave me enough to easily empathize and sympathize with Darling, her friends and family. I enjoyed Darling's points of view, her voice, and her innocence.
- I absolutely LOVED the cross-cultural references, nuances, similarities/differences, and challenges: Interactions with non-Africans, African Americans; the notion of smiling; differences in child-rearing; the significance of a "name" and the need for new ones; views of education, the stigma and impact of AIDS, the dismantling of the family unit, etc.
- I'll definitely consider future work from this author.
Ms. Bulawayo's writing is beyond impressive - stark yet fluid, cynical yet sweet. The book seems so real (not that a 60+ white guy in Florida would know), and I must say that I agreed with the blurbs on the back cover, which use words like "powerful," "beauty," "laughter," "pain," "nihilstic," "feral," "feisty" and "funny." At the same time, I can't quite give it five stars because notwithstanding its reality it keeps the reader at a distance and doesn't really tell a story as such; the ending is consistent with this, as the book just sort of ends. At the same time, I recognize that the gulf between Darling's story and my own life may just be too wide to create the kind of engaging empathy that I found the book lacking. So I hope Ms. Bulawayo will forgive me if I "only" give this very good book 4.5 stars.
There seems to be a new crop of authors writing about Africans becoming strangers in a strange land - "Ghana Must Go" and "Americanah" among them - but it's going to be hard for any of them to top "We Need New Names," and I urge you to read it.
What this collection of linked stories about a young girl named Darling does, is explore what seems to be the current fixation of the African fiction that makes it to America -- namely, getting the hell out of Africa to a better place, and the toll that takes on the soul (see, for example Americanah and Ghana Must Go). In the first half of the book, we see contemporary Zimbabwe through the eyes of 10-year-old Darling and her daily life in a shanty-town. It's a rich and colorful portrait of a place, but it's hard not to feel like each chapter/story was designed to highlight some particular issue. For example, one chapter focuses on a hucksterish Christian pastor, another on the toll of AIDS, another on Chinese penetration of Africa, another on rape, another on inept international aid assistance, another on mob rule. And although Bylawayo does a nice job weaving all of these issues into Darling's life, via her family and friends, some readers might feel like there was a checklist of topics that she was ticking off with each part.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
We Need New Names is a critical addition to the evolving brand of African literature that situates itself in a realistic global realm. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Shingi Mavima
I had to buy this book for my values and culture class. And I wish i would of bought the physical copy instead of the kindle version.Published 2 months ago by sara
Simply brilliant. Simply real. The agony that I guess is Zimbabwe spoken from the mouth of a surprisingly intelligent child. Hard to read, well worth reading.Published 2 months ago by Ian B.
Like everyone says....compelling disturbing engaging. My little regular semi-urban America life seems a yawn in comparison. So glad to know she is continuing her writing.Published 3 months ago by SarahEllen
Today's authors good and not so good use the f bomb like it's scattershot. Ms Bulawayo is truly gifted. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mature1
A pretty quick read that will open your eyes to how immigrants feel. Without dwelling in details, the book evokes incredible nostalgia. Awesome novel. Read morePublished 3 months ago by yeaks
I wanted to love this book. Instead, cliche and lack of character development left me longing for the novel it could have been.Published 3 months ago by Anyanwu
Having a stamp of approval from Junot Díaz is not a small deal to me. In my mind he is one of the most authentic--not to mention best--authors working today. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Gregory Baird