Bite-size Review: We Need New Names | NoViolet Bulawayo

AFRIKULT.’S OVERALL RATING: 

We Need New Names | NoViolet Bulawayo

Darling is an endearing protagonist with a narrative voice that adds vibrancy to the harsh circumstances which confront her and her friends, families and neighbours within the shanty province. You journey through the decrepit rotten paths of littered used goods, imagining the striking repugnant smell and the wonderful conflux of colours; especially when hunting for guava. However, once she immigrates to America, to be honest, it’s a disappointment page after page. Let me explain. Bulawayo tells a story of a young girl brought up in the Zimbabwean slums, who witnesses heart-wrenching scenes and experiences harsh social changes instigated by notable key policies of Mugabe’s government (the chapter Blak Power is a powerful demonstration), which is unsettling at times for the reader. But Darling’s story is not remarkable or unique. And that is what I enjoyed about it most. Her story, whilst in Zimbabwe, transcends beyond her own individuality and bares the society whole. The disappointment comes tumbling in once she mysteriously ends up in the US. Like seriously. It was another one of THOSE stories. A young black girl, confronted with the West hurdles into an identity crisis- it’s dystopian almost. Her voice is lost. The magic is gone. I was glad when it was finally finished. Honestly, I grow tired of these stereotypical representations of an African child in a US setting. Kudos to Bulawayo for getting the book out, but seriously We Need New Narratives of the African/Black story in the diaspora.

(Recommend Vintage Books 2013 edition)

 

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