We Need New Names (Bulawayo)

Except for the names of the characters (Bastard, Darling, Mother of Bones, etc.) and places (Paradise, Bucharest, etc.), this novel starts off rather conventionally. It’s a child’s eye view of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and the vast discrepancy between the promises and the reality, between the rich and the poor, between the blacks and the whites.

Then comes the chapter, “How They Appeared” (75-79). I include the page numbers here because I encourage you to go into a bookstore or library and read just those pages. They are incredible and serve to vault NoViolet Bulawayo’s story to another level. Or read, instead, “How They Left” (147-148) or “How They Lived” (239-252). Mini-masterpieces, one and all. They brought some of Tim O’Brien’s work from The Things They Carried to mind. They are lyrical and powerful; they are amazing stories.

Aside from Darling’s imagined vision of how an American mall would be like if her countrymen filled it, things falter a bit when the story moves to America. But news that bin Laden has been captured evokes a childhood memory of Darling’s – of playing the game Finding bin Laden with her friends, which leads to a stunning final image.

I can’t wait for what’s next.



2 Replies to “We Need New Names (Bulawayo)”

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