We Need New Names

A Novel

Bulawayo, NoViolet

Book - 2013
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
We Need New Names
Follows ten-year-old Zimbabwe native, Darling, as she escapes the closed schools and paramilitary police control of her homeland in search of opportunity and freedom with an aunt in America.

Publisher: New York :, Reagan Arthur Books/Little Brown and Company,, 2013
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 0316230812
Branch Call Number: FICTION BULAWAYO 2013
Characteristics: 296 pages ;,22 cm


From Library Staff

Fans of Chimamanda Adichie looking to discover another great African novelist with a strong and unique voice, will enjoy this debut from Zimbabwean author NoViolet Bulawayo. This story of a young girl named Darling who leaves the violence of her native Zimbabwe to live with her aunt in Detroit i... Read More »

It's not easy to forget the names in this story of a girl from Zimbabwe. You will also be left with a lingering hunger for guavas.

Follows ten-year-old Zimbabwe native, Darling, as she escapes the closed schools and paramilitary police control of her homeland in search of opportunity and freedom with an aunt in America.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Feb 11, 2015
  • westiegrrl rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Bulawayo is a writer to watch for. At the beginning, the narrative is set in a war and disease-ravaged Zimbabwe. 10 yr old Darling and her buddies live in a shanty town next to a rich white enclave. Along with playing "Find Bin Laden", they steal and then gorge themselves on guavas from the rich people's trees. Their life is hard but they have each other. Eventually, Darling emigrates to Michigan to live with her hard-working aunt. The transition is extremely abrupt and perhaps this is meant to signify Darling's experience. In this second section, the narrative felt more like vignettes as compared with the first section. Although stylistically this was somewhat challenging, Darling's voice is authentic and the prose is lyrical, even when describing horrifying events. I agree with one reviewer about the gratuitous violence at the very end of the book but will say no more about this to avoid spoilers.

Feb 10, 2015
  • dssanderson rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I enjoyed this book. I thought it was a little slow in the beginning but then found it hard to put down.

Jan 14, 2015
  • ReidCooper rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A truly original writer. I loved this novel.

Sep 22, 2014
  • Anistasya rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

This book was engrossing at times, and occasionally disturbing. A frank and realistic reflection on what it means to be an immigrant and to leave you country behind.
This story was told in a unique voice, which gave me a sense that the words were being spoken, rather than written.
I couldn't say that I enjoyed the story, but rather I felt compelled to read all the way to the end. I learned a lot. I think I understand a little better than I did before, but as the author so astutely points out - only those who have experienced it can really know what it's like.

Mar 10, 2014
  • mclarjh rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Really more a series of connected vignettes than one story.

Feb 10, 2014
  • booktigger rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

At times funny, at times sad 10 year old Darling's voice will not be soon forgotten. The audiobook version is very well read and worth listening to.

Jan 22, 2014

"Ten-year-old Darling used to go to school, but as Zimbabwe falters under a violent regime, she and her friends spend much of their time stealing fruit from rich neighbourhoods (and hiding as gangs invade the homes). Though their lives are chaotic, they find stability of sorts in each other and their games; when Darling is sent to America, it's not the panacea she expected. Her frank observations of the differences between the two countries make it clear that, despite her opportunities, she may not be better off. Debut author NoViolet Bulawayo is a writer to watch; the short story that became this novel's first chapter won the Caine Prize, also known as "the African Booker," in 2011." Fiction A to Z January 2014 newsletter http://www.libraryaware.com/996/NewsletterIssues/ViewIssue/08d5616c-a421-41b2-9f98-6535d3775ee7?postId=a9ff8cf2-4c1b-4150-af29-533cdefdcca0

Jan 17, 2014
  • Jane60201 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I agree that the first part of the book set in Africa was more well written and compelling than the part set in America. However, it is unusual to find a book that can integrate modern technology (use of Skype, laptop porn, etc.) into an immigrant story some seamlessly.

Dec 31, 2013
  • 4catsdogs rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

The first part of this book was riveting; then her situation changed and it became page after page of pointless dialogue. Then the story suddenly skips on to the next generation and it feels like the author is in a big rush to finish. The writing is patchy. It goes from gritty to sentimental to sad and next minute the teenagers are watching porn on the computer. I think it needed some editing or maybe the help of a ghost writer.
By the way, I wish someone had warned me so I am putting a warning here; the book contains graphic descriptions of cruelty to animals. I was sickened by the description of the soldiers kicking a small pet dog around like a football, and the squashed dog description on the very last page was there only for shock value-we had already been told several times how cruel and callous the soldiers were. The scene was out of context and disgusted me.

Dec 27, 2013
  • nursemelanie rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I was not sure what to expect from this book except the story about life in Zimbabwe. The shift to American life was sharp and served the story well. A heart-wrenching story because it is surely a fictionalized account of the experiences of so many people.

I enjoyed this book greatly. The only issue I had with it was a short section that was very graphic/vulgar (unnecessarily so, in my opinion) that involved pornography. Just to warn others. Overall, an excellent story and deserving of the high praise being given to Ms. Bulawayo.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add a Notice

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Find it at MCL