We Need New Names (Bulawayo)

Book Reviews
[D]eeply felt and fiercely written…the voice Ms. Bulawayo has fashioned for her [narrator, Darling] is utterly distinctive—by turns unsparing and lyrical, unsentimental and poetic, spiky and meditative…Using her gift for pictorial language, Ms. Bulawayo gives us snapshots of Zimbabwe that have the indelible color and intensity of a folk art painting…Ms. Bulawayo gives us a sense of Darling's new life [in the United States] in staccato takes that show us both her immersion in and her alienation from American culture. We come to understand how stranded she often feels, uprooted from all the traditions and beliefs she grew up with, and at the same time detached from the hectic life of easy gratification in America.
Michiko Kakutani - New York Times

Bulawayo describes all this in brilliant language, alive and confident, often funny, strong in its ability to make Darling's African life immediate without resorting to the kind of preaching meant to remind Western readers that African stories are universal, our local characters globalized, our literature moving beyond the postcolonial into what the novelist Taiye Selasie has best characterized as Afropolitan…Bulawayo is clearly a gifted writer. She demonstrates a striking ability to capture the uneasiness that accompanies a newcomer's arrival in America, to illuminate how the reinvention of the self in a new place confronts the protective memory of the way things were back home.
Uzodinma Iweala - New York Times Book Review

[T]he first half of the book...is a remarkable piece of literature. Ten-year-old Darling is Virgil, leading us through Paradise, the shantytown where she and her friends...live and play.... Abruptly, Darling lands with her aunt in America.... [She] may not be worse off, but her life has not improved.... Bulawayo’s use of English is disarmingly fresh, her arrangement of words startling.
Publishers Weekly

As Bulawayo effortlessly captures the innate loneliness of those who trade the comfort of their own land for the opportunities of another, Darling emerges as the freshest voice yet to spring from the fertile imaginations of talented young writers like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Dinaw Mengestu, who explore the African diaspora in America. —Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Estero, FL
Library Journal

In Bulawayo’s engaging and often disturbing semiautobiographical first novel, 10-year-old Darling describes, with childlike candor and a penetrating grasp of language, first, her life in Zimbabwe during its so-called Lost Decade and then her life as a teenager in present-day America.... Ultimately what lingers is Bulawayo’s poignant insights into how a person decides what to embrace and what to surrender when adapting to a new culture in a new land. —Donna Chavez

A loosely concatenated novel in which Darling, the main character and narrator of the story, moves from her traditional life in Zimbabwe to a much less traditional one in the States.... In America, Darling must put up with teasing that verges on abuse and is eager to return to Zimbabwe.... Bulawayo crafts a moving and open-eyed coming-of-age story.
Kirkus Reviews

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