Bulawayo - Daily Telegraph

If I had to imagine the writing process of many African writers, it would look like this: they draw up a list of hot-button issues on Africa: failing economes, brain drain, ailing health care, corrupt governments, human trafficking, immigrant experience and so on. Then they write stories that comment, reflect, or capture these issues.

It is always less about the story and more about hitting some imaginary list of social issues that they believe define Africa’s contemporary reality.

There are many reasons for this. And we know that it’s not a new phenomenon. Achebe’s generation did the same thing. But there are those of us who think it’s time for African writers to try out something different.

That’s why I’m not surprised that Helon Habila (Waiting for an Angel) complains that Bulawayo’s debut novel We Need New Names is driven by the desire to “cover every African topic; almost as if the writer had a checklist made from the morning’s news on Africa.”

Just as an aside. I love it when writers review other writers. There’s always a palpable tension.

Here is an excerpt of the review.

NoViolet Bulawayo‘s new novel, We Need New Names, is an extension of her Caine prize-winning short story, “Hitting Budapest“, and yes, it has fraudulent preachers and is partly set in a soul-crushing ghetto called Paradise, somewhere in Zimbabwe. Yes, there is a dead body hanging from a tree; there is Aids – the narrator’s father is dying of it; there is political violence (pro-Mugabe partisans attacking white folk and expelling them from their homes and chanting “Africa for Africans!”); there are street children – from the ranks of whom the narrator, Darling, finally emerges and escapes to America and a better life. Did I mention that one of the children, 10- or 12-year-old Chipo, is pregnant after being raped by her grandfather?

There is a palpable anxiety to cover every “African” topic; almost as if the writer had a checklist made from the morning’s news on Africa…And this is all in the first hundred pages,

Read full review HERE.

 

Image Via Telegraph.

Tags: , , , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

The Three African Books on The NYT 100 Notable Books of 2016 List

ibrahim-abubakar-morland-3

The New York Times has released its prestigious 100 Notable Books of the Year list, and there are only three […]

Adichie Talks Dior, Paris, and Her Fashion Week Experience in New Interview with Elle.com

ibrahim-abubakar-morland-1

In October, Adichie sat front row at a Christian Dior fashion show in Paris and watched models strutting the run way […]

Adichie, Selasi, Teju Cole, and Others Share their Favorite 2016 Books

ibrahim-abubakar-morland-2

2016 is coming to an end and, as is their tradition, The Guardian UK has asked some of the globe’s top […]

The New Yorker Profiles Kenyan Online Bookseller Magunga Williams

magunga-williams-new-yorker

A LITTLE over a week ago, The New Yorker ran a story on Magunga Williams, Kenyan bookstore owner and blogger, […]

Life after Ake Festival Is a Drab Thing | By Ogbu Godwin Ikechukwu | A Memoir

Copy-of-Chinese

…but the powerful memories of Ake Festival, like a good old film, come at me, and I am too weak […]

Shortlist Announced for the 2016 Morland Writing Scholarship

ibrahim-abubakar-morland

Three months ago, we announced that The Miles Morland Foundation was accepting applications for a writer’s scholarship. The shortlist for […]