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Extended Audio Sample We Need New Names, by NoViolet Bulawayo Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: NoViolet Bulawayo Narrator: Robin Mile Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Darling is only ten years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. In Zimbabwe, Darling and her friends steal guavas, try to get the baby out of young Chipo’s belly, and grasp at memories of before their homes were destroyed by paramilitary policemen, before the school closed, before the fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad.

But Darling has a chance to escape: she has an aunt in America. She travels to this new land in search of America's famous abundance only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously few.

NoViolet Bulawayo’s debut novel calls to mind the great storytellers of displacement and arrival who have come before her—from Zadie Smith to Monica Ali to J. M. Coetzee—while she tells a vivid, raw story all her own.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Bulawayo mixes imagination and reality, combining an intuitive attention to detail with startling, visceral imagery...This book is a provocative, haunting debut from an author to watch.”


  • “Bulawayo’s first novel is original, witty, and devastating.”


  • “Bulawayo’s use of contemporary culture (the kids play a game in which they hunt for bin Laden and, later, text like their lives depend on it), as well as her fearless defense of the immigrant experience through honoring the cadence of spoken language, sets this book apart—on the top shelf.


  • “Bulawayo has written a powerful novel. Her gift as a visual storyteller should propel her to a bright future—a dream fulfilled, no matter the country.”

    USA Today

  • “Bulawayo, whose prose is warm and clear and unfussy, maintains Darling’s singular voice throughout, even as her heroine struggles to find her footing. Her hard, funny first novel is a triumph.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “A novel as unique as its author name, NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names enables us to see Zimbabwe and our own country through the inquisitive eyes of a ten-year-old girl. The Africa that she inhabits seems as unfamiliar to us as her buddies named Bastard and Godknows, but the America to which she immigrates has a strangeness that immigrants know better than the rest of us. This tale of assimilation and identity has a rawness that somehow retains its charm. Quite simply unforgettable.”

    Barnes&Noble.com, editorial review

  • “Deeply felt and fiercely written…the voice Ms. Bulawayo has fashioned for her [narrator, Darling] is utterly distinctive—by turns unsparing and lyrical, unsentimental and poetic, spiky and meditative…Using her gift for pictorial language, Ms. Bulawayo gives us snapshots of Zimbabwe that have the indelible color and intensity of a folk art painting…Ms. Bulawayo gives us a sense of Darling’s new life [in the United States] in staccato takes that show us both her immersion in and her alienation from American culture. We come to understand how stranded she often feels, uprooted from all the traditions and beliefs she grew up with, and at the same time detached from the hectic life of easy gratification in America.”

    New York Times

  • “Bulawayo describes all this in brilliant language, alive and confident, often funny, strong in its ability to make Darling’s African life immediate without resorting to the kind of preaching meant to remind Western readers that African stories are universal…Bulawayo is clearly a gifted writer. She demonstrates a striking ability to capture the uneasiness that accompanies a newcomer’s arrival in America, to illuminate how the reinvention of the self in a new place confronts the protective memory of the way things were back home.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Nearly as incisive about the American immigrant experience as it is about the failings of Mugabe’s regime [in Zimbabwe].”


  • “Bulawayo’s use of English is disarmingly fresh, her arrangement of words startling.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “As Bulawayo effortlessly captures the innate loneliness of those who trade the comfort of their own land for the opportunities of another, Darling emerges as the freshest voice yet to spring from the fertile imaginations of talented young writers like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Dinaw Mengestu, who explore the African diaspora in America.”

    Library Journal

  • “Bulawayo crafts a moving and open-eyed coming-of-age story.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “With her rich, beautiful voice, Robin Miles adopts an authentic accent and a childish tone to recount the exploits of Darling and her oddly named friends. Events range from the tragicomic stealing of guavas from the rich houses, which they eat until they're constipated, to the downright tragic game of reenacting the beating death of an antigovernment activist. When Darling moves to ‘Destroyedmichygen,’ Miles subtly changes the accent to reflect Darling’s new way of speaking as she becomes an American teenager. Darling is an illegal immigrant who cannot visit home, and her growing feeling that she doesn’t really belong anywhere is tangible. Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • Selected for the June 2013 Indie Next List
  • Winner of the 2013 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award for Fiction
  • One of the New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for 2013
  • A 2013 New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • One of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2013 for Fiction
  • A 2013 Guardian First Book Award Finalist
  • An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2013
  • Winner of the 2013 Etisalat Prize for Literature
  • One of NPR’s Great Reads for 2013
  • Winner of the 2013 Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Prize for First Fiction
  • A 2014 Indies Choice Award Honoree for Adult Debut
  • Finalist for the Man Booker Prize
  • Winner of the PEN/Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award for Debut Fiction
  • Winner of the 2014 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation Award for Fiction
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About the Author

NoViolet Bulawayo, born and raised in Zimbabwe, is the author of several different works, including the short story “Hitting Budapest” and the novel We Need New Names. Her stories have won the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing, and she was shortlisted for the 2009 SA PEN Studzinsi Award. Bulawayo earned an MFA from Cornell University, where her work has been recognized with a Truman Capote Fellowship; she has gone on to see her stories published in the Boston ReviewNewsweek, and the Warwick Review, among others.