10 months ago


By: Alice

By: Alice Driver

Writing About Women on the Margins: An Interview with Noviolet Bulawayo The Zimbabwean novelist NoViolet Bulawayo, a group of her friends and I are at Buka, a Nigerian restaurant in Brooklyn, and we are surrounded by fish heads, fufu, fish stew, fresh ginger juice, yam fries, and plantains. Around us, there is a little girl with wild braids jumping up and down, trying to reach a painting on the wall. She is grabbing at my hand, asking me to take her to the bathroom. She is running around the restaurant, asking me to chase her. Her mother is yelling, voice stern, demanding good behavior. The women are passing food, sharing dishes, giving advice, talking of love. The girl is looking at me, looking at my fufu, and then she grabs a handful and stuffs it into her mouth. The baby is breastfeeding. Over dinner, as the women’s voices hum around us, I talk to NoViolet about her debut novel We Need New Names (Little, Brown and Company, 2013).We Need New Names is a coming-of-age narrative narrated by 10-year-old Darling, and is divided into two parts. The first part is about Darling’s childhood in Zimbabwe, and the second is about her life after moving to the United States. Darling and her friends — Chipo, Godknows, Sbho, Stina and Bastard — learn to navigate the everyday violence of life in Zimbabwe. They see a woman hanging from a tree, her dead body limp, and they are only momentarily surprised before being overtaken by hunger and deciding to sell the woman’s shoes for bread. In a scene in which the children are visited by NGO workers, Bulawayo captures all the irony of representations of Africa: 70

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