“Hitting Budapest”, the first chapter of NoViolet Bulawayo’s novel We Need New Names, is probably the best section of the book. It’s not just the bravery and brazenness of the young urchin protagonists as they maraud around an affluent neighbourhood looking for guavas, but also the naive, hilarious narrative voice deployed by its author.
That first chapter won her the Caine Prize in 2011. Now she is in line for another gong: she is on the long list for the Man Booker Prize. With prizes seemingly piling up, it’s safe to say that Bulawayo is one of the most exciting writers to emerge from Africa in the past few years.
If you think her name is improbable, it’s because it is an acquired handle. It’s almost as if the author, listening to her own injunction of needing new names, gave herself a strange, novel one. She was born Elizabeth Tshele in 1981, in Tsholo-tsho, Zimbabwe, and moved to the United States when she was 18.
Read more at the M&G.
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