‘We Need New Names’ is a novel by Zimbabwean author, Noviolet Bulawayo that left me in stitches. In the book, Noviolet follows Darling and her friends. Reading the names, I burst into laughter. Zimbabweans have a custom of naming their children exotic names. The characters lived decent lives in beautiful houses before the country’s revolutionary police bulldozed their homes and now they live in a squatter camp called Paradise.
Darling spends her days stealing guavas in the suburbs, playing games and wondering how to get the baby out of young Chipo’s stomach with her friends. They all dream of settling in other paradises like America, Dubai, and Europe. However, will these new dwellings bring everything they wish for? Will they get the paradise they were promised?
The language usage was boiled down and definitely kept me reading. Ever so keen to fall in with more ill-mannered words, “this kaka (shitty) place” the kids called their homes. The dialect made it a fun read, who would’ve thought such words would make it in a bestselling original. Character developments are gripping, the motives of kids who seemed regular are unprompted and thoughtless. For instance, they get into character imitating the medical series ‘ER’ to perform an abortion on Chipo.
At some point, it felt like I was reading a coverage about Zimbabwe and an immigrant’s experience all rolled into one. Also it was a bit predictable, there and there. Otherwise, it’s an understandable book grasped with characters not probable to forget soon. A heavy contribution to Zimbabwean literature.