We Need New Names tells the story of Darling, a young Zimbabwean girl who emigrates to the United States. Michiko Kakutani praises NoViolet Bulawayo’s “gift for pictorial language” and her ability to create “snapshots of Zimbabwe that have the indelible color and intensity of a folk art painting” in her New York Times review. Meanwhile, Annalisa Quinn of National Public Radio writes that “We Need New Names is nearly as incisive about the American immigrant experience as it is about the failings of Mugabe's regime [in Zimbabwe]."
While researching this month's pick, I discovered a playlist that Bulawayo created when she was named to the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” list by Junot Díaz.
Listening along made us at 1book140 even more excited to start reading Bulawayo's novel and gave us the idea of inviting readers to share their favorite music inspired by the book. Let us know if you're game and we'll create a playlist of your selections in our next post.
In addition to the international recognition for We Need New Names, Bulawayo was the winner of the 2011 Caine Prize for her short story “Hitting Budapest.” In this interview with The Africa Channel, Bulawayo reflects on how Africanness inspires her, the role of storytelling in her upbringing, and how she came to be a writer.
Here’s how to join the conversation:
Reading Schedule for We Need New Names
- Week One: Chapters "Hitting Budapest" through "Real Change"
- Week Two: Chapters "How They Appeared" through "For Real"
- Week Three: Chapters "Destroyedmichygen" through "This Film Contains Some Disturbing Images"
- Week Four: Chapters "Hitting Crossroads" to the end
Note: We’re considering dropping the week-specific hashtags and just using #1book140 throughout the month. Let us know what you think in the comments or on Twitter.