"We Need New Names" by Noviolet Bulawayo was a compelling read. A fast moving first person narrative through the eyes of a ten-year-old girl, Darling, in Zimbabwe. Her life was smooth sailing until her house was demolished, and had to move in with her family to a slum called Paradise. A contradiction in terms, indeed.
Life in Paradise was not bad after all, she made friends: Bastard, pregnant Chipo (though she was only 11), Sbho, Stina and Godknows, with whom she aimlessly roamed the richer neighbourhood in tatters, searching for ripe guavas to steal in order to assuage their hunger. Going to school was out of the question, since all of the teacher have emigrated to neighbouring countries for better pay cheque. What is more, International Aid was their main source of survival.
As the story unfolds, things went from bad to worse and, fortunate Darling managed to join her aunt in the United States of America. Where she found herself subdued in a cultural conflict, self-loss, missing all she had left behind. Even though, her home country was a scene of abject poverty.
An entertaining read. Though, at first, I was wondering why all the Prizes. However, in the end, I came to realise that it is one special book, whose story clung on for a while after reading. Realistic characters, though, with names that weren't the norm. Additionally, I found something intrinsically despairing with Darling's narrative, helplessly voicing out her opinions about the world she lives in. The writing style flows easily. It is just amazing how the writer emulated a child in such circumstances.
Noviolet Bulawayo is a talented writer, I am so confident that she would write even better novels in the future. Her first novel is a 2013 Man Booker Prize Nominee, 2013 Guardian First Book Award Nominee, 2013 Winner of Etisalat Prize for Literature and 2014 Pen/Hemmingway Award so far.
Finally, big thank you to the MS/HS library for lending me an electronic copy after I persuaded them to buy one.