July 08, 2013

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo | Book Review

Darling, Bastard, Godknows, Stina, Chipo and Sbho are Zimbabwean kids who roam the streets daily in constant exploration of their surroundings. The Zimbabwe they live in is a broken down mess. Schools are not in session because teachers are on a strike; their parents are constantly in search of employment, something, anything, that will put food on the table. After being run off their properties by the government, they and many other families settle in shanties at a location known as "Paradise", a place they hope to abandon as soon as the country gets better. AIDS ravages them even as "the white man" and other foreigners plunder them. In all they are at the mercy of NGOs who bring them much needed aid in exchange for their dignity. Darling is the protagonist who wittily narrates it as she sees it. She is one of the privileged ones who get to leave Zimbabwe for America to pursue unfulfilled dreams but America comes with a different set of problems that Darling has to learn to deal with.

We Need New Names is superbly entertaining. I wasn't even that far in when I began considering re-reading it so I could savor it all again. I dragged out my reading in a ridiculous attempt to postpone the inevitable. It was so good from the start that I worried it would lose steam but Bulawayo delivers right to the very end. I'm a big fan of NoViolet Bulawayo. We Need New Names is a remarkable debut novel, a standout. Do not borrow this book. BUY it.

[Image via Goodreads]


  1. hello friend, have a week and hugs from Brazil

  2. Oh...so you liked the book -_-
    (Osondu, I'm clearly perusing your blog and reading all your book reviews LOL). Hmm, I have so many issues with this book. I read the book this summer so I will post my review of it soon. I did not find this novel entertaining, it was actually difficult to get through. I was sick of all the stereotyping without a solid plot. I rolled my eyes a lot while reading this LOL. I even buddy-read it with a friend, but she gave up on the book after the 5th chapter. Welp!
    Otherwise, good review - as always!

    1. Haha! Yeahh I can tell that you're perusing my blog and I'm flattered :) + I'm enjoying it. Yes ooo! I like this book! I think Taiye Selasi mentioned it in her "Stop Pigeonholing African Writers" article that someone said it was like NoViolet had a list of African stereotypes and ticked off each one as she went along. I don't agree. I really enjoyed the book. I found it funny.

    2. hmmm. You'll see what I mean in my review! But I agree, some bits of the book are hilarious :)

    3. Okay. I 'll keep an eye out for your review :)