We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

“Ten-year-old Darling has a choice: it’s down, or out…We-Need-New-Names

We Need New Names tells the story of Darling and her friends Stina, Chipo, Godknows, Sbho and Bastard. They all used to have proper houses, with real rooms and furniture, but now they all live in a shanty called Paradise. They spend their days stealing guavas, playing games and wondering how to get the baby out of young Chipo’s stomach. They dream of escaping to other paradises – America, Dubai, Europe. But if they do escape, will these new lands bring everything they wish for?”
Shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize, this book elbowed its way onto my reading list last July. It’s a story about childhood memories, the loss of innocence, being an outsider and yes, the tension between African poverty and Western affluence. While at times the horrors that the children encounter in their shanty town of Paradise seems (perhaps) a tad cliche it is balanced with the vibrancy of typical children; singing Lady Gaga at the top of their lungs, playing invented games and gorging themselves on stolen guavas. The thing I really liked about this novel is the treatment of Darling’s eventual migration to America where the challenges she faces and the changes in her voice as the protagonist, reveal some poignant ideas about cultural differences.
Mature themes including violence and sexual content. MA
Recommendable as a related text for the HSC English Extension 1 Course: Navigating the Global4stars

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