December 18, 2013

Book Review:We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

We Need New Names

Author: NoViolet Bulawayo
Genre: Literary Fiction
Release Date: May 21, 2013
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books
Source: Finished copy from publisher


A remarkable literary debut -- shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize! The unflinching and powerful story of a young girl's journey out of Zimbabwe and to America.

Darling is only ten years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. In Zimbabwe, Darling and her friends steal guavas, try to get the baby out of young Chipo's belly, and grasp at memories of Before. Before their homes were destroyed by paramilitary policemen, before the school closed, before the fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad.

But Darling has a chance to escape: she has an aunt in America. She travels to this new land in search of America's famous abundance only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously few. NoViolet Bulawayo's debut calls to mind the great storytellers of displacement and arrival who have come before her-from Junot Diaz to Zadie Smith to J.M. Coetzee-while she tells a vivid, raw story all her own.

We Need New Names is a heartfelt and eye-opening literary fiction novel that tells the moving story of Darling, a young girl who finds her way out of her home village in Zimbabwe to the United States. We see her struggles and watch her overcome obstacles that we couldn't even imagine. She finally makes it to the United States to live with her aunt, only to find that the land of freedom and possibilities is incredibly limited to her because of her legal status as an immigrant.

This story was masterfully told with such emotion and insight that it felt like I was right alongside Darling during her life in Zimbabwe throughout her journey to America and beyond. Darling is a fantastic and unusual main character for the novel - she's just a young girl who migrates to America from Africa. However, her preconceptions, hopes, determination, and beliefs are palpable to the reader to the point where my heart broke for her at times, while at others I was cheering her on. The writing was conversational being from Darling's point of view, but it also was insightful and intelligent. The pace was steady and flowed seamlessly, which made this a completely fascinating novel. There's so much more to the plot that Darling's life and journey to the United States - the reader realizes things they had never thought about before; things that may have never crossed their minds otherwise. It brings a wonderful sense of understanding and eye-opening realizations to the reader throughout the entire book. Highly recommended for fans of contemporary fiction and literary fiction!

* A big thanks to the wonderful people at Reagan Arthur books for sending me a copy for review!*

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