We Need New Names-NoViolet Bulawayo
Darling is only ten years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. In Zimbabwe, Darling and her friends steal guavas, try to get the baby out of young Chipo's belly, and grasp at memories of Before. Before their homes were destroyed by paramilitary policemen, before the school closed, before the fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad.
I thought this started off super well. I liked Darling, the child's perspective (a bit of a rarity for me) because it was not overly twee or too-precocious but rather preoccupied with a child's obsessions. It was an excellent way to humanize Paradise, the slum in Zimbabwe. Then...a more 'poetic' chapter came along followed by the USA (no where near as long as Zimbabwe) which leads to another poetic transition to when Darling was established in the USA only to finish off the book with another poetic transition. As much as the sections set in the USA were as realistic and well written as the beginning, something just felt a bit off about the transitions-almost as if they were written for something else. Otherwise, I thought it an excellent tale of the immigrant experience-one foot in the past, another in the present and fitting in absolutely nowhere.
I also really enjoyed Bulawayo's prose-it's strong, strident and clear. A bit of an unusual voice actually.
Read for around the world and GWC.