We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

We Need New Names

NoViolet Bulawayo

Initially I didn't think I was going to like this book, with its strangely-named characters: Bastard, Godknows, Bornfree .... The first half is set in Zimbabwe (unnamed), but when the narrator, Darling, moves to America to live with her aunt, the writing seems to gain a fresh intensity. In Detroit, Darling struggles with her feelings for her native land as she adapts to life in the USA. This latter part of the book is very moving indeed.

Extract

And when these words tumbled from their lips like crushed bricks, we exchanged glances again and the water in our eyes broke. Our smiles melted like dying shadows and we wept; wept for our blessed, wretched country. We wept and wept and they pitied us and said, It's okay - it's okay, you are in America now, and still we wept and wept and wept and they gave us soft little thingies and said, Here is some Kleenex, here, and we took the soft thingies and put them in our pockets to look at later and we wept still, wept like widows, wept like orphans.

Parallels
  • The Wall by William Sutcliffe
  • And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
  • Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie