The first chapter of the book, “Hitting Budapest”, initially presented as a we need new names by noviolet bulawayo pdf in the Boston Review, won the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing. This is a story with moral power and weight, it has the artistry to refrain from moral commentary. A coming-of-age story, We Need New Names tells of the life of a young girl named Darling, first as a 10-year-old in Zimbabwe, navigating a world of chaos and degradation with her friends, and later as a teenager in the Midwest United States, where a better future seems about to unfold when she goes to join an aunt working there.
PEN Award for debut work of fiction. The novel begins by following a group of mostly pre-teen children – the central character Darling and her friends Stina, Chipo, Bastard and Godknows – living in tin shacks in Zimbabwe after their homes have been bulldozed by Mugabe’s paramilitary police.
The author gives “a child’s-eye view of a world where there is talk of elections and democracy but where chaos and degradation become everyday reality, where death and sickness and the threat of violence lurk” in a shanty town misleadingly named Paradise, where people try to hold on to dignity while families fracture. The children spend their days getting into mischief, stealing guavas from the rich neighbourhood known as “Budapest”, inventing a life of adventure and make-believe, daydreaming of enjoying luxury overseas in places such as Dubai and America. When eventually Darling travels abroad to live with her aunt who is working in Detroit, Michigan, she discovers the many other struggles and stresses to be faced as an African immigrant to the US, including listening to misconceptions about one’s land of birth, having to adapt to a new culture, and the fact that there are so many illegal immigrants in the States over whom the threat of deportation looms.