Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Writer to Watch

We Need New Names is the first novel from NoViolet Bulawayo, who was born and raised in Zimbabwe and is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.  As I was reading the novel, certain other works came to mind, such as Dave Eggers' What is the What and Americanah by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie, which also explore the theme of being an immigrant from Africa and navigating two different worlds and assimilating into an unknown culture in which the reality doesn't match up with the expectations.  Bulawayo has a voice entirely her own and she brings her characters to life in this unflinching, spirited, witty novel that introduces us to 10-year-old Darling and her band of friends, who we first meet stealing guavas from the wealthy neighborhood called Budapest.  Darling is eventually given the opportunity to live with an aunt in America, and ends up in Michigan amidst snow, isolation, and low paying jobs.  An interesting read indeed.

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