‘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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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
A powerful new African voice - Pride Magazine
A novel that deals with the immigrant experience and torn identity is nothing new; what justifies the inclusion of We Need New Names on the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize is NoViolet Bulawayo’s command of Darling’s captivating voice, as she and her friends race through Paradise – “When we hit the bush we are already flying, scream-singing like the wheels in our voices will make us go faster” – a siren call of life and laughter more powerful than the hardships that blight her childhood. - Times Literary Supplement
A work of gritty naturalism - Prospect
A fresh, engaging take on the relationship between rich and poor - Wanderlust
A tale of our time, a powerful condemnation of global inequality from the point of view of a 10-year-old in impossible circumstances... a stunning piece of literary craftsmanship - Weekly Telegraph
Bulawayo, whose prose is warm and clear and unfussy, maintains Darling's singular voice throughout, even as her heroine struggles to find her footing. Her hard, funny first novel is a triumph. - Entertainment Weekly
We Need New Names is a distinct and hyper-contemporary treatment of the old You Can’t Go Home Again mould, and the book has more than enough going for it to easily graduate from the Booker longlist to the final six - Upcoming
Bulawayo's novel may scream Africa, but her deft and often comic prose captures memories and tastes, among them the bitterness of disappointment, that transcend borders - Atlantic
An exceptionally fine novel, as powerful and memorable as Coetzee's magnificent Disgrace... We need new novels like this – authentic, original and cathartic - Herald
By this author
About the Author
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. We Need New Names is her first novel. In 2013 it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.