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We need new names by NoViolet Bulawayo - Thoughts on the disconnect between African Countries.

This book is very hard for me to review. I really wanted to love it but I just didn't. It was a good read but it's definitely not a new favorite.

What I loved:

The poetry. The writer is a poet and it shows in her work. There are a few beautiful poems in the book but what I really enjoyed was the way that she manipulated words to describe longing and belonging the way only a poet can. She captured many sentiments that probably ring true for immigrants allover the world and she wrote them beautifully.

The information in this book is not spoon-fed to anyone. You are going to have to do your googles. If you are not Zimbabwean, from Southern Africa or familiar with some of the things she talks about then you will learn something new. I love it when Black authors, especially African or Caribbean authors, do not translate or explain everything in the book. The point is for you you learn so if the context does not give you enough information, then DO YOUR GOOGLES.

The familiarity. The story being told in this book is one that is unfortunately very familiar and very real. This is a good and bad thing. It is good because the author did a very good job at describing something that happens to thousands of people through the eyes of a child. She writes it so well that the naiveté of the main character is quite frustrating at times, even.

It is bad because it's a story and we have read time & time again. I didn't feel like the author developed this story enough to make it unique even though the potential was there.

Now, what I didn't like:

The format of the book. I don't understand why quotation marks could not be put around the dialogue. It also felt like a bunch of short stories and poems thrown together at times because it would just jump from one place to another. The chapter after she has moved to the states, for example was just confusing as hell. One moment she was in Zim dreaming of when her aunty will come and take her to the USA, the next, she was in her aunt's living room in the US. It just tainted the whole story for me.


All of this said, the reason it took me so long to review this book is because it really left me thinking about how disconnected African counties are from one another.

I remember being young and watching the adults in my life watch the news and they loved Mugabe for a very long time. After reading this book, I can confidently say that they loved him a lot longer than the Zimbabwean people did.

In this book, there is a scene where the main character is in the US watching the news with her Zimbabwean aunt and her Ghanaian boyfriend. The news talks about Mugabe's refusal to give in to the west and The Ghanaian in the room cheers while the Zimbabwean in the room shakes her head and turns off the TV because she saw first hand the consequences that Mugabe's actions were having on the people of her nation. This man, however, only knows that an African leader is standing up to "the man" and nothing else.

I mean, I don't blame the Ghanaian man or the adults in my life because they got their international news from CNN, BBC, CBC, FRANCE24 and other news channels of that kind. We already know how those countries feel about a united Africa.

I find it very sad that many of us do not know much about our neighboring countries until we become a part of the diaspora and meet people from other African countries.

I guess the point I am trying to make it is that we really need to think about where we get our news from, especially when it comes to other African countries. We need to communicate more and maybe then, we can stand up for each other more often.


All in all, I would recommend the book. If anything, you will learn about Zimbabwean culture and be entertained.

As always, thanks for reading. If you want a copy of the book, check out this link.

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