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Ella Cara Deloria, Raymond J. Demallie
Miss MacIntosh, My Darling
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The Book of Night Women
Marlon James

We Need New Names

We Need New Names - NoViolet Bulawayo 3.5 stars, maybe four - well worth a read. I’m sometimes skeptical of child narrators, but Darling is an effective protagonist; her raw, matter-of-fact depiction of her childhood in Zimbabwe casually contrasts her innocent curiosity and the games she and her friends play with the violence they encounter – death, beatings, sexual abuse, sickness, their own hunger pangs. Yet Bulawayo is clear that Zimbabwe is far more than the sum of its present atrocities; there is history, there is pride, there is home.

I loved both sections of this book. My issues were mostly with the writing, which is occasionally too on-the-nose (see, for example, the pretty, bulimic daughter in the Invisible Children T-shirt), as if Bulawayo is making sure she hit a checklist of ironies and brutalities. The multiple shifts in POV in the final chapters seemed unnecessary. While it's a little unfair, the obvious comparison is with Americanah, and I may have been spoiled a bit by just having read that superior novel. Achichie is layered and subtle where Bulawayo is blunt and at times obvious. Both styles work, though, and I look forward to more from Bulawayo. She’s fantastic.