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Hachette Book Group
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We Need New Names: A Novel (NoViolet Bulawayo) Kindle Edition
|Length: 305 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: 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 lush, language-rich narration by a young African girl who gradually becomes an expat in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Scott&Scott (aka Romentics)
I actually had her as my Writing Seminar Professor at Cornell University and knew she was brilliant. This was amazing!Published 18 days ago by U.
Having punctuation would help. Giving actual places and time would have helped. For sure they needed new names or at least names which could be understood as names not a comment of... Read morePublished 24 days ago by Sally B
It was okay, I guess. I'm frankly surprised that some hotshot Hollywood producer hasn't already bought the rights to this book for Oscar bait. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Frequency
I've read quite a few African authors (I lived in Uganda for 4 years), and NoViolet Bulawayo is a fresh new voice. An exciting young writer.Published 1 month ago by Michael Terry
Informative and heart rending is how I would describe the book. I have always wanted to know how it was for African immigrants to live here and how it contrasts with their own... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mtown Lady
I don't know what else to say. This account spares nothing and no one. It is simply excellent. Read it.Published 1 month ago by Craig Martin
I loved the book. I found it sad as it reminded me of home. Must read, I highly recommend it.Published 2 months ago by Lulu