‘To play the country-game, we have to choose a country. Everybody wants to be the USA and Britain and Canada and Australia and Switzerland and them. Nobody wants to be rags of countries like Congo, like Somalia, like Iraq, like Sudan, like Haiti and not even this one we live in – who wants to be a terrible place of hunger and things falling apart?’
Darling and her friends live in a shanty called Paradise, which of course is no such thing. It isn’t all bad, though. There’s mischief and adventure, games of Find bin Laden, stealing guavas, singing Lady Gaga at the tops of their voices.
They dream of the paradises of America, Dubai, Europe, where Madonna and Barack Obama and David Beckham live. For Darling, that dream will come true. But, like the thousands of people all over the world trying to forge new lives far from home, Darling finds this new paradise brings its own set of challenges – for her and also for those she’s left behind.
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Bulawayo’s novel is not just a stunning piece of literary craftsmanship but also a novel that helps elucidate today’s world - Daily Telegraph
The challenging rhythm and infectious language of NoViolet Bulawayo's emotionally articulate novel turns a familar tale of immigrant displacement into a heroic ballad. Bulawayo's courage and her literary scope shine out from this outstanding debut - Daily Mail
Darling is 10 when we first meet her, and the voice Ms. Bulawayo has fashioned for her is utterly distinctive — by turns unsparing and lyrical, unsentimental and poetic, spiky and meditative... stunning novel... remarkably talented author - New York Times
often heartbreaking, but also pulsing with colour and energy - The Times (Saturday Review)
We Need New Names is full of life -- you can almost feel the sun on your arms and hear the birds in the trees -- and Bulawayo is certainly one to watch - Stylist
Enthralling... a provocative, hauting debut from an author to watch - Elle (US)
NoViolet Bulawayo has created a world that lives and breathes - and fights, kicks, screams and scratches, too. She has clothed it in words and given it a voice at once dissonant and melodic, utterly distinct - Aminatta Forna
NoViolet Bulawayo's We Need New Names is an exquisite and powerful first novel, filled with an equal measure of beauty and horror and laughter and pain. The lives (and names) of these characters will linger in your mind, and heart, long after you're done reading the book. No Violet Bulawayo is definitely a writer to watch - Edwidge Danticat
I knew this writer was going to blow up. Her honesty, her voice, her formidable command of her craft -- all were apparent from the first page. - Junot Diaz
Bulawayo's use of contemporary culture...as well as her fearless defense of the immigrant experience through honoring the cadence of spoken language, sets this book apart---on the top shelf - Oprah magazine
a debut that blends wit and pain... heartrending... wonderfully original - Independent
a brilliantly poignant tale of what it is to be an outsider in a strange land - Glamour
creates a fictional world that is immediate, fresh, and identifies the arrival of a talented writer - Sunday Times (Culture)
a really talented and ambitious author - Guardian
Written in sharp, snappy prose, this is a raw and thought-provoking debut - Easy Living
original, witty and devastating - People Magazine
a powerful new African voice - Pride Magazine
I was bowled over... by NoViolet Bulawayo's shatteringly good first novel, We Need New Names - Anne Tyler, Good Housekeeping
NoViolet Bulawayo is a powerful, authentic, nihilistic voice - feral, feisty, funny - from the new Zimbabwean generation that has inherited Robert Mugabe's dystopia - Peter Godwin, author of When a Crocodile Eats the Sun
a work of gritty naturalism - Prospect
witty... ebullient... heartbreaking... our feisty heroine's sparkle never dims - i
a truthful, profound snapshot of the kind of life that often gets overlooked. Moving, fresh, enlightening. A fantastic novel - Waterstone's Aberystwyth
a fresh, engaging take on the relationship between rich and poor - Wanderlust
a bittersweet coming-of-age tale of displacement during the southern African nation's 'lost decade' - Voice
NoViolet Bulawayo uses words potently, blending brutality and lyricism in her unflinching, bittersweet story of displacement - Observer
a really talented and ambitious author - Guardian
Wonderfully, this is a novel whipped with the complexities of African identities in a post-colonial and globalised world and its most compelling theme is that of contemporary displacement, a theme that will resonate with many readers - We Sat Down Blog
This is a very readable tale, thanks to some excellent writing and its central character: a likeable heroine in a difficult world - UK Regional Press Syndication
When a novel is praised by Helon Habila and Oprah Winfrey, you have to sit up - Independent on Sunday
Extraordinary - Daily Telegraph
How does a writer tell the story of a traumatized nation without being unremittingly bleak? NoViolet Bulawayo manages if by forming a cast of characters so delightful and joyous that the reader is seduced by their antics at the same time as finding out about the country’s troubles… A debut that is poignant and moving but which also glows with humanity and humour - Independent on Sunday
NOVIOLET BULAWAYO was born in Tsholotsho a year after Zimbabwe’s independence from British colonial rule. When she was eighteen, she moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan.
In 2011 she won the Caine Prize for African Writing; in 2009 she was shortlisted for the South Africa PEN Studzinsi Award, judged by JM Coetzee. Her work has appeared in magazines and in anthologies in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the UK. She earned her MFA at Cornell University, where she was also awarded a Truman Capote Fellowship, and she is currently a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University in California.