This week I am reading an amazing novel by NoViolet Bulawayo for my Diverse Women's Writers class with Professor Rosamond King.
Never before having heard of NoViolet Bulawayo's unique, magnificent voice as an author, I was taken aback by the potency of her book, "We Need New Names."
This novel is fresh and roughly awakening in its voice and resonance politically as well as artistically. Readers follow a young protagonist named Darling as she grows up in an impoverished Zimbabwe slum named Paradise.
Darlings perspective is full of pain, beauty, and understanding from an extremely young age. Her father departs the family and returns with AIDS years later. Darling then follows her ambitious young aunt to the unfamiliar American shores.
Here, Darling finds herself in Detroit, Michigan, beginning to assimilate herself to the strangeness of American culture. Life in America is incredibly different from what Darling expects, and her dislocation and strength breathes fresh insight into the modern day immigration story.
While reading, I found myself incredibly encouraged by the young woman's strength and independence. Even so, Bulawayo has a way with haunting her readers through situations and language. Many scenes were incredibly heart breaking and at times hard to read.
Whether it was a description of the cruel, outlandish religious ecstasy of Paradise's priest, or the poverty the children in the village found themselves among; there is no dishonesty to be found in this novel. The author never curtsies around the harsh realities Darling faces, and she never shies from subjects that may leave readers feeling rather uncomfortable.
I greatly appreciate this from Noviolet Bulawayo.
Her writing treats each incident subjectively; whether it is a moment of great beauty or great destruction. An emotional tone is rather void from the narrative, leaving readers to digest the power of each situation independently from the guidance of a narrator. In my own writing I hope to emulate something similar for various fiction pieces.
Too often, I feel, as writers we want to describe (or prescribe) a specific feeling to our readers. Instead, I hope to build my characters with fragile and delicate webs of detail and dialogue- as Bulawayo demonstrates in "We Need New Names."
It was incredibly easy to latch on to each character and child Darling communicates with. We see the humanity within the most hated of characters and the most loved alike.
I still have a few pages left of the novel, but I look forward to reading more from NoViolet Bulawayo in the near future. Join me! Happy Reading and have a wonderful week, English lovers!!