NoViolet Bulawayo Interview
In 2011 NoViolet Bulawayo won the Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story Hitting Budapest, the tale of a group of children stealing guavas. Her debut novel, We Need New Names, follows that same group of children – Chipo, Stina, Sbho, Godknows, Bastard, and our narrator, Darling. They live in the Zimbabwean shantytown of Paradise, after political and social upheaval has seen the destruction of their houses, and their safer, more comfortable lives. Where before there was school, now there are games, gnawing hunger and the dream of a different home. When Darling gets that new home, taken to America by her aunt, she finds that it has its own flaws, and that your true home is something that you never truly want to leave behind.
It’s a stunning work and has been awarded the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, and the Etisalat Prize for literature, as well as being shortlisted for the Man Booker in 2013. NoViolet has her MFA from Cornell, where she was awarded a Truman Capote Fellowship, and she was selected by Junot Diaz for the National Book Foundation’s 5 under 35 last year.
NoViolet talked to Sky Kirkham about joy, hunger, and the importance of silence. Originally broadcast 16/10/2014, We Need New Names is out through Random House.