NoViolet Bulawayo’s ‘We Need New Names’

We need new names‘We Need New Names’, the debut novel from author NoViolet Bulawayo, is split into two distinct halves.

In the first section, Darling is growing up in a shanty town in Zimbabwe, playing with her friends on the hot streets and eating guavas. Each chapter takes us through a different aspect of living in Zimbabwe at the time – from the violence or political oppression to religion or AIDS – taking us through the history of the country to how Darling now sees it today, through a child’s eyes. This innocence and the matter of fact style in which Darling recounts events is particularly harrowing – in particular some of the games the children invent and their horrific attempt to abort a child pregnancy.

But even though the author takes us through some of the worst sides of Zimbabwe’s history, there is still a vibrancy to her writing and a really strong sense of culture comes through. The children accept their lives and see the world around them in a way that their parents can’t. They might dream of leaving and going to America, or other developed countries, but even though they have very little, their community is supportive and bound together by strong family and cultural values. Continue reading