Sunday, May 24, 2015

Book Review: We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

Fiction.  I read this for the faculty book group Read Around the World for February 2015.  This work takes place in Zimabwe, in an impoverished neighborhood, with the protagonist Darling, who is a ten-year-old girl.  The novel follows Darling and her friends around town as they search for guavas to steal out of the trees in more well-to-do areas, her very young and pregnant friend, the sleazy clergy, and the corrupt paramilitary police.  It is a sad story and a sad life, and eventually Darling goes to America to live with her aunt, and we hope this will make life better for her, but she is faced with a much different way of living, and a much different view of how children behave in the two different worlds.

I think it is important that these stories are told, but I feel I have read so many of them, and they are all so sad and depressing, it weighs on you to read them over and over again.  It did lead us to a good discussion about the nature of violence, how it is passed on, and what people deem as acceptable.  And that is what this felt like, a way to address issues of poverty in Africa, the difficulty immigrants face (legal and illegal), and how do we view violence.  It did not feel like a novel, it was depressing, it was not cohesive, and I don't feel it offered something new nor did it offer any possible suggestions or solutions to such problems in the world.  I would recommend it only if you have not read the same type of thing before or if you are in a book group that wants to discuss these specific issues.

And so it goes...


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